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Fiat Dealer Sets Up Shop in Mall

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author photo by Autotrader March 2011

A shopping mall may be an unlikely place for a car dealership, but according to one newly-appointed Fiat dealer, it's the perfect setting for a new opportunity. O'Brien Fiat has set up shop across from a children's play area and next to a Johnny Rockets in suburban Indianapolis's Greenwood Park Mall – and so far, business is good.

The store, which owner Tom Miller refers to as a "Fiat Studio," is one of the first Fiat dealerships in the nation and the very first in Indiana. There's no service department and mall regulations prohibit moving cars during regular business hours, but that hasn't stopped Miller from already unloading five of Fiat's miniature 500 hatchbacks – half of his original allotment, which he received less than two weeks ago.

"Being one of the first in the country, we were on the fast track," Miller told AutoWeek, noting that his objective was to be among the first Fiat dealers in the nation to open. "This mall is perfect. They have 12 million visitors a year, and it's the only mall on the south side of Indianapolis,"

Of course, opening any retail store isn't without its costs. Miller told AutoWeek that he spent $300,000 to set up the 2,200-square foot facility, which features not just cars but Fiat accessories from jackets and bags to wheels and model cars. But Miller, also president of nearby Tom O'Brien Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, knew he wanted to add Fiat to his portfolio, and quickly decided the popular mall would be the perfect place to introduce a large audience to the unfamiliar brand.

"I saw it firsthand," Brian Nelson, the mall's general manager, told AutoWeek. "There was a couple standing at the entrance to the store looking at the dealership. When I passed by, I heard the husband say, 'Let's go in and take a look.'"

Miller agrees the store's location is working. Sales aside, he says the studio recorded around 100 visitors on its first Saturday – three times the average number of Saturday walk-ins at Miller's Chrysler dealership. While much of that traffic may just be curious mall visitors rather than car shoppers, the studio is still accomplishing its purpose: introducing people to America's newest car brand. For that reason alone, Miller can sleep easily knowing his investment is justified.

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Fiat Dealer Sets Up Shop in Mall - Autotrader