Dealer: Gas prices haven't hurt car sales

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Despite rising gas prices, car dealerships in Craig report little, if any, drop in business.

"Overall I don't think it has hurt us," said Kevin Harvey, general manager for Craig Ford Mercury. "If anything it has helped us a little."

Harvey said many people around the area who have to commute for work have come in to buy smaller, more efficient cars. Most keep their trucks or sport utility vehicles for recreational purposes.

According to the AAA Web site, gas prices continued to climb after the July 4 holiday and are nearly five cents below the all-time record set on April 13 in Colorado.

Suzanne Meyer, who just purchased a new Dodge truck, said she did not consider gas prices when she made her purchase.

"I know what gas prices are," she said. "I had (a truck) before, and it wasn't an issue."

The new truck, Meyer said, will be used for work, to pull her horses and as a general means of transportation.

John Knoche, the sales manager for Cook Chevrolet Jeep-Subaru, said he has seen a "big upswing" in sales of economy-sized cars.

"I don't know if (gas prices) have hurt us," he said. "They've just spread (the market) around."

Gas prices have changed the way some dealerships buy cars.

"When we go to auctions we are trying to purchase smaller cars," said Irene Kitzman, human resource manager for Victory Motors of Craig. "We also can't order new cars so far in advance."

Kitzman said truck and SUV sales are still pretty high in the Craig area.

Since a lot of Craig's economy is based on agriculture, Kitzman said, people will always have a need for a truck or SUV.

"The economy around here is much different than the metro area," she said. "The metro area is a lot of stop and go."

Nevertheless, Knoche said how dealerships deal with gas prices remains to be seen.

"I don't know if you can really prepare for it," he said. "There are no real indicators of what the future may hold."

To reach Luke Graham, call 824-7031.

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