The new owner of local used car retailer CarLotz has turned in the keys to its two Richmond-area retail locations, while taking another step toward retiring the CarLotz brand altogether.
California-based Shift Technologies on Thursday announced the closure of the CarLotz outposts at 8406 W. Broad St. and 11944 Midlothian Turnpike.
Also on the chopping block were CarLotz locations in Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina, and Tampa, Florida, while the last two remaining CarLotz dealerships in the Los Angeles and Chicago areas are being converted to Shift-branded locations.
However, the Broad Street, Charlottesville and Tampa stores are already under new management.
HoneyCar, a used-vehicle dealer based in Winchester, Virginia, assumed the CarLotz leases and hired the dozens of employees of those three locations.
Patrick Barnes, general manager of HoneyCar, said the company began operations at the three sites on Feb. 2.
Barnes said HoneyCar launched in 2021 and is in growth mode. HoneyCar was founded by Jake Sodikoff, whose family runs the Steven Automotive in Harrisonburg, where it operates Toyota, Nissan and Kia dealerships.
“We’ve grown very rapidly. We sold 1,000 cars last year,” Barnes said of HoneyCar. “We’re really excited about being in Charlotteville and Richmond and bringing what we do down to the area.”
Barnes would not comment about how the deal with CarLotz and Shift came to be, other than to say HoneyCar has retained the 45 CarLotz employees at the three locations.
“Coming into the situation our goal was to keep everyone on board and to get set up and start working right out of the gate,” Barnes said.
Shift said in a release the store closures are part of its exit of its East Coast presence, which it inherited from CarLotz.
“After thoughtful consideration, we determined it was in the best interest of the company to exit the East Coast CarLotz presence,” Shift CEO Jeff Clementz said in press release. “As we remain laser-focused on reaching profitability, we felt it was the right decision to focus on geographies where we have the most operating expertise, logistical and brand awareness leverage, and ability to scale.”
Shift absorbed CarLotz in December in a deal that brought together two struggling online car retailers. CarLotz at its peak had 22 retail locations. That store count was down to eight at the time of the merger.
The two Richmond-area locations were CarLotz’s original stores. The company was founded in Richmond in 2011, opening its first spot on West Broad Street that year.
Founders Michael Bor, Will Boland and Aaron Montgomery then steered the company into a growth spurt that eventually led to an IPO in 2021. It was valued at the time at $1.9 billion, before its share price plummeted in the face of huge losses and a difficult used car market triggered by pandemic supply chain issues.
Shift also has struggled since going public in 2020. The merger with CarLotz was billed in part with a goal of melding CarLotz’s East Coast presence with that of Shift’s foothold on the West Coast.
Shift said it continues to sell cars nationwide through its website.
As of last week, Shift and CarLotz continued to operate out of CarLotz’s Richmond headquarters in the HandCraft building in Scott’s Addition, where it houses back-office positions that have thus far remained post-merger.
Too bad. I bought two cars from CarLotz in a single year, one at each location. I was pleased with the process and the price we paid. I was hoping to utilize their model going forward and hope to find comparable replacements.
Where is the check back to the state for the $700,000 grant for their headquarters for all those 200 jobs that never materialized or last to meet the performance goals?
The place on midlothian,va. Scammed my son.They never paid that bank he first financed through or voided the loan contract.now he owning 2 bank institutions..Yeah they won’t be getting away with this, i most definitely will be calling my lawyer if they don’t get it straight.