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Jon Knutson, Published January 31 2009

Corwin Toyota excited to unveil sparkling new store

Tim Corwin promises his new Fargo location is a little different from other auto dealerships.

The new Corwin Toyota store opens Monday at 222 40th St. S.

“You won’t find anything quite like it anywhere else,” said Corwin, president of Corwin Automotive Group.

The 66,500-square-foot store will replace Corwin Toyota’s existing Fargo location at 201 40th St. S., which has about 25,000 square feet.

The old location was built in 1980. Sales have skyrocketed since then, Corwin said.

“We need more space.”

The new store will have about 70 employees, up from about 50 at the current location, said Dan Wilson, vice president of Corwin Automotive Group.

Notable features of the building,

85 percent of which is heated by waste oil, include:

- A 30-stall service department, all with underground hoists.

- Comfortable seating, along with TVs and fireplaces.

- Upscale bathrooms with granite/marble countertops.

- Special waiting areas for teens and young children.

- A lot on which more than 400 new and used vehicles can be displayed.

- A self-service cafeteria offering snacks and refreshments.

Corwin officials are especially proud of the “truck lifestyle area” that features a rural landscape with a large tree and an operating windmill pumping water and other amenities.

“When people come into the store, usually the first thing they do is look at this and go, ‘Wow,’ ” Wilson said.

The rural landscape was created by SiteWorks Unlimited Inc. of West Fargo.

Corwin officials approached SiteWorks and said they “wanted a ‘wow’ thing for their showroom,” said Eric Binstock, owner of the West Fargo company.

Collecting the items used in the display took about three weeks, he said.

The old windmill came from Bowman, N.D., he said.

The Russian olive tree came from Glyndon, Minn., and has artificial leaves attached to it, Binstock said.

Russian olives often are seen in rural shelterbelts.

“We’re pretty proud of this. We think people will enjoy it,” said Binstock, whose wife, Jamie, also was involved in the project.

The new Fargo store is part of the Toyota company’s Image II store design.

So far, 146 dealers have enrolled in the store design program, with 56 projects completed, according to the toyotaimageusaii.com Web site.

The site includes images of some of the Image II stores around the country.

Toyota wants to increase the uniformity of its stores through the store design program, Corwin said.

Stores that participate in the program will receive more Toyotas to sell, he said.

Though auto sales are struggling nationwide, Corwin said his Fargo Toyota store enjoyed its best year ever in 2008.

The Fargo-Moorhead area’s economy is much stronger than the national economy, he said.

Corwin said he studied a number of Toyota stores nationwide and incorporated many of their features into the new Fargo store.

He declined to say what the project cost.

The current Corwin Toyota location eventually will become the home of Corwin Honda, now at 303 38th St., S. in Fargo.

The existing Corwin Toyota dealership will be extensively renovated before Corwin Honda moves in, which should happen sometime this year, Wilson said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530