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Once promising used car chain closes Tampa location, its last store in Florida

CarLotz, once seen as revolutionizing auto sales, has closed all of its East Coast stores after merger with San Francisco tech company.

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 10:05 a.m. February 7, 2023
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Shift Technologies has closed the final CarLotz store in Florida.
Shift Technologies has closed the final CarLotz store in Florida.
  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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CarLotz, the Richmond, Virginia car dealer once perceived as a revolutionary in automobile retailing, has closed all of its East Coast stores, including the one Tampa, about two months after merging with San Francisco e-retailer Shift Technologies.

In statement, Shift says it shut down six stores it inherited from CarLotz “in order to focus on building omnichannel capabilities in its other locations and on the company’s path to profitability.”

The store in Tampa was at 801 Bearss Ave. and “will be assumed” by an unnamed local dealership group. A call to a still active phone number for the Tampa CarLotz store was forwarded to a call center which confirmed the store had closed.

The two remaining CarLotz stores in California and Illinois were renamed Shift.

“After thoughtful consideration, we determined it was in the best interest of the company to exit the East Coast CarLotz presence,” Jeff Clementz, Shift’s CEO, says in a statement. “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.”

CarLotz, from the outset in 2011, believed it could change how cars were sold by sourcing its inventory directly from consumers rather than buying at auto auctions or from other dealers. The idea was that it would take vehicles in on consignment, work with the customer to determine a sales price and then sell it for them, even though the price sellers wanted for their vehicles wasn’t always in line with market values.

But other than how it sourced inventory, marketed itself and the fact that it called stores hubs, the company sold cars just like any other used car dealership. And, even with the hype, it was never able to reach the level of fellow Richmond car dealer CarMax.

While CarLotz saw some initial success, growing to more than 20 locations and going public, in June it announced that it would close half its stores and layoff 30% of its workforce. This was about four months after it replaced its founding CEO Michael Bor.

The closures included two stores in Florida, one of them a highly touted location in Clearwater.

The merger with Swift was completed in December.

There was no update on how many jobs were cut when the Tampa location close.



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the commercial real estate editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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