NEWARK — The Ricart Automotive mega mall did not literally move to Newark, but the 67-acre dealership in Groveport is as close as your computer and trip to the new Ricart Express Newark on West Church Street in Newark.
Following the trend of online shopping for vehicles, Ricart opened its smallest dealership Friday on a half-acre used car lot at 1525 W. Church St., next to Independence Auto Body.
The dealership will serve as a pick-up point for used car purchases from Ricart’s online retailing program, Express Checkout, as well as a traditional used car dealership, with vehicles not scheduled for pick up continually rotated to provide options for shoppers.
Rick Ricart, president of Ricart Automotive Group, visited the new location for the grand opening on Friday.
“It allows access to the entire mega mall to Newark and Licking County,” Ricart said. “There will be online options on the website for them to do today.
“People just want to click a couple buttons and take delivery. We have to adapt and realize that’s how our customers want to buy cars in the future. They’re not going to be in here for hours waiting for bank approvals. The real backbone is convenience. We save them time to travel to the mega mall.”
Ricart will have up to three employees stationed at the new location. Jeremy Tudor, general manager of used cars, and Ted Hanawalt, sales director, both Pataskala residents, will be working at the Newark location.
Tudor said the inventory of vehicles in Newark will change daily. There were 47 vehicles there Friday, including small and midsize SUVs, and some sports cars and trucks.
“A lot of smaller stores don’t have that opportunity,” Tudor said. “The selection is endless for us. We’re going to change the way people buy cars. Trying to do everything digitally. It takes away time spent at a dealership.”
Ricart Automotive knows what vehicles Newark-area residents prefer. Tops is the Honda CR-V.
“Google tells us what this zip code is looking for,” Tudor said. “Six months of data from a 12-mile radius of this store.”
Hanawalt, a 35-year Ricart employee, said, “I love it. I truly love it. It’s a great location. It’s a great concept. I’ve had people stop in excited for us.”
The 1,200-square-foot building and adjacent lot is Ricart’s first dealership location in central Ohio with a focus on fulfilling online orders. The dealership, in a building previously used as a dentist;s office, will operate with an “Apple-store-like layout,” according to Ricart’s press release.
“When you see a physical name on a building, it helps connect with the visibility on television,” Ricart said. “This idea of the digital retail shop where you buy online is a new process. A lot of people haven’t bought a car in the last two years, and it’s a different experience. It’s forever changed.”
Newark has the only Ricart Express location, but others may be added at some point.
“There is no next step plan,” Ricart said. “We want to let this concept be a success. But this can be replicated very easily.”
Ricart Automotive employs more than 600 at its new and new and used car dealerships in Groveport and Dublin, and sells about 15,000 new and used vehicles annually.
Ricart Ford was founded in 1953, by Rick Ricart’s grandfather, Paul Ricart Sr., who opened Ricart Ford that year in Canal WInchester. In 2011, Rick assumed all sales and marketing operations at the dealership in Groveport and worked as a product specialist. In 2018, he was appointed co-president of the company.