Bristol Toyota, which has been a fixture at the intersections of Tupelo Streets and Metacom Avenue for decades, is moving its operations to Massachusetts.
The move is necessary, said owner Ed Veader, to accommodate a larger customer base. Instead of serving just Bristol and Warren, Mr. Veader’s targeted market area now includes Somerset, Swansea and a portion of Fall River.
“Toyota did a consolidation of some of its dealerships and realigned their service areas,” Mr. Veader explained. “I need to be within a two-mile radius of those communities.”
For the past six months, Mr. Veader has been scoping out properties along Route 6 in Swansea. He’s currently negotiating to buy 6.64 acres of the former Baker Tractor Company site, 2283 G.A.R. Highway. The parcel is divided into two lots and is owned by Bill Chadwick, former president of Baker Tractor.
Mr. Chadwick will be before the Swansea Planning Board tonight, March 6, with plans to reassemble those lots, and construct a dealership on one. The property has three existing access points: Rte. 6, Filko Avenue and Nod Road.
“It’s easier for people in Swansea and Somerset to come there,” Mr. Veader said. “It’s strategically and conveniently located.”
Between buying the property and building a new dealership, Mr. Chadwick estimated Mr. Veader’s investment to be in excess of $5 million.
Mr. Chadwick is hopeful that the deal will be closed in two weeks, but the process thus far has been anything but quick.
“There have been so many extensions to this,” Mr. Veader said. “I didn’t want to come out and say anything until I knew exactly what was going to happen.
“There are so many moving parts to the puzzle. (Mr. Chadwick) doesn’t have the money yet, and I don’t own the property yet.”
If Mr. Veader doesn’t acquire that property specifically, he’ll have to keep looking. Toyota has given him a deadline of mid-2015 to relocate.
“If the consolidation didn’t happen, I’d be here as long as I could,” he said. “It’s a beautiful area and a great community.”
Bristol Toyota has been at its current location since 1986. Before that, it was a Village Toyota dealership. Those who are currently employed are “invited to come,” when the move takes place, Mr. Veader said.
“This is not something that we were looking forward to happening,” said Town Administrator Tony Teixeira. “There wasn’t much we could do to reach out and change their minds.”
Despite being across state lines, Mr. Veader assured that his civic commitments to Bristol will be on-going.
“I have grandchildren here and family here who are all involved in activities and the schools,” he said. “You never forget your roots.”