Tio Chuy's Auto Sales, Oklahoma City's first automotive superstore targeting Hispanic customers, will open this month in a high-profile location just off Interstate 35 on the city's southside.
Tio is Spanish for Uncle and Chuy is common nickname in Latin American countries for men with the name Jesus. The logo for the dealership features a smiling man wearing a sombrero, flashing a thumbs-up sign with one hand and holding a car key in the other.
The new dealership is a joint venture of longtime Oklahoma City car business veterans Rich Barnard, David Frayer and Shawn Richardson, veteran owners of the multilocation Oklahoma car dealer and lender Express Credit Auto.
Barnard will serve as President and CEO of Tio Chuy's and will operate the dealership on a day-to-day basis. He has sold out his interest in Express Credit Auto to pursue the new Tio Chuy's concept.
“My wife is from Mexico and we saw that there was a need in the Latino community for automotive sales and finance,” Barnard said. “That community is very fast growing and vibrant right now and we decided that we were going to roll out this brand and concept specifically for the Latino community and make the business conducive to that customer base.”
Tio Chuy's in October purchased the former Big Bob's Carpet and Flooring building and about 11 acres of land for the dealership at 6220 I-35 Service Road just off SE 59 Street and renovations are now underway on the property.
About 90 percent of Tio Chuy's employees are bilingual. The dealership will offer buy-here, pay-here financing for buyers at interest rates starting at 4.99 percent.
Depending on a buyers' immigration status, it can be tough for some immigrants to obtain financing to buy a car, particularly for temporary residents with a tax identification number, Barnard said. Tio Chuy's plans to offer financing for those consumers that a traditional automotive lender might not be willing to give credit, he said.
“Our broadest audience will be anybody who needs a car and anybody who can't get financing through typical venues,” Barnard said.
Tio Chuy's also wants to give back to Oklahoma City's growing Hispanic community, he said. The dealership has begun sponsoring events through the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and plans to offer free English language classes to the public in the evenings.
The dealership also plans to award a Tio Chuy's college scholarship to a local high school senior in at its grand opening event 7 to 11 p.m. on Jan. 25.
By getting involved in the local Hispanic community, the dealership is doing a good job of niche marketing, said David Castillo, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“Tio Chuy's is doing very creative things to market themselves in the Hispanic community, Castillo said. “They have been sponsoring a lot of our events and have been getting their name out in the community, which is very important.”