Village Motor Sales, Inc. is a family-owned business that has been a part of Chelsea for almost 50 years.
Jim Stock was a child when his parents, Tom and Jeanne, started the dealership in 1971, but was involved with the company early on.
"I was picking up cigarette butts and sweeping floors (in the store)," he said.
Stock purchased the dealership in the spring of 1999 from his parents, who are still partners in the business. It was originally called G&A Sales and it is has been in the same location since opening. The building facade has also remained much the same, though Stock said it's ready for an overhaul.
Until 1988, it was a Chrysler, Plymouth and Dodge dealership. But the Plymouth brand was discontinued and Jeep was added, he said. Now the staff sells new Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles, along with other used vehicles.
Changes Through the Years
Vehicles are very high tech now, relying on digital sensors and other technology to improve performance, safety and comfort, Stock explained.
"Cars have become a big rolling computer," he said.
Stock said the biggest change to the dealership over the years is how service teams repair vehicles.
We've got people driving around with 300,000 to 400,000 miles on their cars, he said.
Those are important customers because they want their vehicles serviced to make them last, he said.
Stock said the dealership is open six days a week and he has worked almost every Saturday of his life.
"We're open long hours, we've got a great location and we're easy to get to," he said.
The Chrysler Proving Grounds are less than five minutes from the dealership. Stock said every Chrysler product is tested there. The local corporate connection, combined with the large number of Chrysler employees in western Washtenaw County and the fact that Village Motor Sales is the only licensed Chrysler dealer in Chelsea, makes for a loyal base of Chrysler fans, he said.
Village Motor Sales has about 100 new and used vehicles on the lot at all times. Customers shopping for a specific car can also contact the auto dealership to help track it down.
"We owe everything to our customers. There's such great loyalty in this town," Stock said.
His employees are just as loyal as his customers, he said.
"Most of my employees have been here 10 years or more," Stock said.
His longest serving employee is Larry Hood, who details the vehicles, and has been with the dealership for more than 25 years.
"We built our business on an honest approach to everything we do," Stock said. "Customers disclose their financial information and they need to know it's going to someone that they can trust."
He said the dealership will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2021 and hopes he and his customers will be around when the store hits its milestone.