• Brotherly shop comes to Charleston •
Billed as an “upscale automotive repair chain,” Christian Brothers Automotive Corp., plans to open a 5,000-square-foot center in the Charleston area.
The store will be the first in the metro area and in South Carolina, according to the Houston-based company established in 1982. It has more than 100 shops nationwide, with most in the Southeast from Texas to Florida. There are also shops in Colorado and Michigan.
According to Christian Brothers, the first local repair store is part of a “larger, regional growth plan that will bring upwards of four new Christian Brothers Automotive shops to the area during the next three years.”
The expansion is expected to “contribute significantly to the local economic landscape as well as create new jobs in the region.”
According to Christian Brothers, company executives zeroed in on Charleston as a prime growth market. The new repair shop, it said, will feature “an upscale home-charm décor that includes hardwood floors, leather couches, artwork and decorative lighting in the waiting rooms.”
Christian Brothers Automotive said it will emphasize “upholding integrity and honest business practices.” The company has created a “positive culture shock” in the marketplace, “particularly among women who are used to the dirty, dingy image of auto shops and questionable practices,” it said.
Top management includes Josh Wall, senior vice president of business development for Christian Brothers Automotive Corp. He is familiar with the decision-making behind expanding into the Charleston market.
• Fiat arrives — finally •
It was a loosely-guarded secret, but official word just came out online that Fiat has joined the Rivers Avenue automile.
On its Internet site, Fiat has a dealer locator where people can type in the state or city and see if a location is there. For more than a year, South Carolina reported but one outlet, in Fort Mill. Then in the fall, a wave of dealerships showed up on the list including in Lexington and the Greenville area and just across the border in Savannah, Ga., and Wilmington, N.C. But no Charleston area, until this week.
The car store, as abbreviated on the dealer locator, is Rick Hendrick Jcdrf. Translated, that’s Jeep Chrysler Dodge Ram Fiat. The outlet is at 8333 Rivers Ave. in North Charleston.
This February, the dealership said that a 3,800-square-foot showroom was in the works next to the existing Hendrick lot. The outlet was expected to open at least by the end of this year, dealership general manager Jeremy Jimenez said then. The outlet planned to sell the Fiat 500 starting in price at $16,000, 500C convertible starting at $19,500 and 500 Abarth starting at $22,000, according to Edmunds.com.
Fiat launched its return to the U.S. market in 2009 by disclosing it would open 130 stores in its first expansion wave.