VW dealer celebrates 50th anniversary - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

VW dealer celebrates 50th anniversary

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Moses VW of Huntington moved into new quarters two years ago. Moses VW of Huntington moved into new quarters two years ago.
Today, Barbara Moses Atkins runs the VW dealership her father opened in 1963. Today, Barbara Moses Atkins runs the VW dealership her father opened in 1963.
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HUNTINGTON, WV -

By JAMES E. CASTO
For The State Journal

Auto dealers come and auto dealers go. But a few dealers continue in business for years, even for decades. A case in point: Huntington's Moses Volkswagen, now celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Jack Moses sold his first VW in 1963. He was already operating a successful Pontiac dealership in Huntington at the time, but he had a suspicion that some car buyers were ready for something different — and goodness knows the tiny VW Beetle was vastly different from the far-larger Detroit models of the 1960s.

His hunch proved correct. Moses soon found he was selling VWs faster than he could keep them in stock. He was forced to put the names of would-be buyers on a waiting list while new models were shipped from the German manufacturer.

Today, Barbara Moses Atkins is president of the VW dealership her late father started a half century ago.

Perhaps not surprisingly, she recalls that her first car was a VW Super Beetle. It was bright orange, with a manual transmission, because Jack Moses insisted that his children all learn to drive a manual. Later, in college, she would drive a snazzy yellow VW convertible.

Maybe it's because they spent so much time around cars when they were growing up, but selling cars is definitely in the family's blood. Barbara Atkins' brothers Steve and Bob Moses have Charleston auto dealerships. Jason Moses, the son of her other brother, the late Jack Moses Jr., runs the General Motors dealership located next door to Moses VW. And Atkins presides over a Honda dealership in addition to the VW store.

"We all operate our dealerships independently but do cooperate on some things like insurance where our combined buying power is helpful," she says.

Jack Moses opened his VW store in the 400 block of 4th Avenue in Huntington. At the time, 4th Avenue, just west of the downtown business district, was sometimes called "Automobile Row" because it was home to so many dealerships. One by one, however, most of the dealers moved to outlying locations. In the 1970s, Moses moved his VW dealership to a site on U.S. 60 East. His friend Bill Turnbull built a Chrysler dealership next to it.

Still later, Moses moved to another location on U.S. 60, but two years ago Atkins moved the business back to the same area it was before, setting up shop where the former Chrysler dealership was located.

The Honda and VW dealerships are located under the same roof — and making that happen was no easy proposition, Atkins says. Each carmaker has strict standards for what their dealerships are expected to look like, and getting the two brands to agree on a joint design was difficult but it finally happened.

The new building "has been great for us," she said. "I think customers like it because it's bright and clean."

When its sales sagged, VW discontinued production of the Beetle but reintroduced it in 1998. Today, the best selling model at Moses VW isn't the Beetle but the Jetta, Atkins says.

In observance of its 50th anniversary as a Volkswagen dealer, Moses VW is offering what it calls "50 Days of Savings" from Sept. 12 through Oct. 31.