Pearl Street Motors
2483 Elm Street
Montpelier, VT 05602
2,880-sq.-ft., two-story dealership founded in 1972. Carries Polaris snowmobiles (franchised in 1978) and Carter Brothers fun karts, plus Yamaha generators and various commercial and homeowner lawn/garden products (Ingersoll, Lawn Boy, Echo, Billy Goat, and Dixon). Four employees.
“Environmentalists, regulations, and insurance are the three biggest factors affecting our dealership,” says Marvin Galarneau, manager.
According to Galarneau, the Polaris 500cc and 600cc XC SP are the hottest sleds du jour. “And Pearl Street has the largest snowmobile parts inventory in Vermont, both via mail order and people just coming from far and wide.”
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Galarneau has noticed that folks are “probably buying more for comfort than for speed. Riders are getting older. And the other factor that’s coming into play around here is insurance costs, because bigger sleds bring bigger premiums.” Is it more expensive to insure a sport sled than a touring one, as is often the case in the motorcycle segment? “Yes, it can be. Insurers are just starting this year to look at snowmobiles in a different light.” The dealership is in Montpelier, Vermont’s capital, which has a population of 9,000. “It’s a transient town, in that a lot of people who work in Montpelier don’t live here. At the end of the day they go to Barre, East Montpelier, or Morrisville, the outlying towns.”
“Vermont is extremely environmentally conscious,” notes Galarneau. “It seems as though anybody who is an activist for the environment lives in this state. There is constant opposition to doing anything that might upset the ecological system-anything traveling over the land, cutting down trees, putting up cell or wind towers. As a ‘service center dealership,’ we enable our customers to register their snow machines and buy their licenses right here. That money goes to VAST (Vermont Area Snow Travelers), then to the trails and the clubs. We take care of the clubs, and trails run right behind our dealership.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Galarneau estimates that the dealership carries approximately 41,000 part numbers for Polaris alone, and an equal number for the other products that it sells. “We’re not the biggest dealership, but we believe we’re the best. We service everything we sell, but not other brands. They’re just so specialized that you need an experienced mechanic or a shop that’s set up to deal with each individual sled, because they all have their own idiosyncrasies. Of course, all of our people are certified in what they service.”
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Pearl Street Motors primarily advertises through the local newspaper and the yellow pages. “Once in a great while we’ll advertise on the radio, and that’s generally only in conjunction with a manufacturer,” explains Galarneau. “Radio is so costly and there are so many stations to choose from, it’s very difficult to pinpoint which one will give you the bang for the buck.”
WORDS OF ADVICE
“Work hard and sell fair,” advises Galarneau. “Service your customers well, don’t try to gouge them, and treat them right.”
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