Car lot Shoney's

The old Shoney's building is pictured. The property will become a car lot.

ASHLAND Anyone driving along Winchester Avenue in East Ashland may have noticed construction crews diligently hammering away at the purple-painted corpse of the old Shoney’s.

That’s because a new car lot is coming town, the owner has confirmed.

Back in February of this year, the property was purchased by Burkett Crum Properties Inc., a company owned by two used car lot dealers down in Floyd County.

Dustin Crum, an owner of Affordable Auto in Prestonsburg, confirmed a new lot is set to open in about the next three months, just in time for the Christmas car shopping season. According to Crum, Affordable Automotive started in 2016 and acquired another dealership last year.

Crum said the expansion into Ashland proper is due to the good location, which can bring in customers not only from Ashland, but surrounding states.

“We can sell a lot in Ashland,” he said. “We’re hoping to get this going in the next three months and have a state of the art dealership here. The building will look like a franchise dealership, but it will be an independent dealership” — independent dealership, meaning it will sell used cars of all makes and models, Crum noted.

“We’re hoping to have between 80 and 100 units on the lot, mostly 2016s on up. But we’ll have some 2015s and older, too,” he said. “We’re hoping to get another piece of property to build a garage to detail cars before they go out on the lot.”

Chris Pullem, the City’s Director of Community Economic Development, said the proliferation of car lots in Ashland goes to show there is a market for it town.

“It doesn’t take a genius to see why they want a piece of the market here,” he said. “A lot of people come to Ashland to buy their cars. It’s a strong market and the only thing holding it back is the supply, which is something we’re seeing nationally.”

Used cars are appreciating rapidly due to the skyrocketing inflation in the economy. According to the Buerua of Labor Statistics’ consumer price index, used car and truck prices shot up 10.5% in June — that’s after a 10% jump in April and a 7.3% hike in May.

The reason behind the rise in prices, according to a July 13 article in MarketWatch, is multi-layered. Last year, orders for new vehicles by rental car agencies fell due to decreased demand. When car manufacturers — who were running lighter production schedules due to the pandemic — ramped back, there was a shortage in computer chips to outfit the new models.

So rental car companies started filling in their fleets — thanks to the uptick in rentals now — with used cars, driving up the demand.

Driving the demand even further are car buyers with stimulus funds in pocket — some looking for used already, while others who may have bought new being forced to look into the used market due to the production hiccup on the new models.

Predating the car scarcity crisis is the death of Shoney’s in the local area.

The Ashland Shoney’s closed in 2014, on the heels of the closure locations in Morehead and Grayson. The west-end Shoney’s in Huntington shuttered in 2018.

For now, the closet Shoney’s is in Charleston, West Virginia — which is kind of poetical, since the company was founded in the Mountain State’s Capital City in 1947.

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