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Targeting the ‘blue-collar guy’

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Roger Barkoff has had many businesses that catered to the underdog in the community.

He’s had check-cashing businesses, loan companies and even a business that helped attorneys and their clients afford expensive litigation.

So when he got into the car business about a decade ago, he decided he would employ the same principles that had worked in the past.

And so far it’s been working great at Affordable Auto Co.

“People told me I was crazy,” Barkoff said of the decision to get into the auto dealership business. “But my biggest advantage was not ever having been in the car business before.”

Like his other businesses, Barkoff targeted a clientele that might otherwise have fallen under the radar.

Although his lot contains cars ranging from Mercedes Benz to BMW to Land Rover, they are offered at a price well below those that would show up in new-car dealerships.

“It’s our firm belief that people like to drive these cars even if they can’t necessarily afford them,” Barkoff said. “Here they can afford them because they have already depreciated.”

And, Affordable offers on-site financing, Barkoff said, because many of his customers have trouble qualifying for auto loans through traditional means.

“I love the blue-collar guy,” Barkoff said. “We try to find cars that want to drive. The whole idea is that if people are driving a car they like to drive, they are more apt to pay for it.”

Barkoff started off in the business slowly, buying and selling a car or two at a time before he realized that there might be a better way to do business. So he sold off his other enterprises and took over the lot on Lomas.

“This is a great location,” he said. “It’s been a car lot for more than 25 years and I love it.”

Using the money from selling his other business, Barkoff has been able to keep the dealership debt-free. And by turning over the inventory about every month through sales, he ensures that there is always a fresh selection from which to choose.

“We have Hondas, Toyotas and other cars like that,” he said. “But we also give people a chance to see what’s it’s like to drive a $20,000 or $30,000 car for under $10,000.”

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