BRADENTON -- There was champagne and Darth Vader to welcome guests to the grand reopening of Bob Boast Volkswagen's new revamped dealership this week.
The Bradenton dealership demolished its 1960s' center building earlier this year to make way for a new $2 million showroom, becoming one of the first in Florida to use VW's latest design standards. Steve Bierwirth, president of the dealership, along with owner JoAnn Boast, welcomed 225 attendees
who celebrated in the new 5,000-square-foot showroom Thursday evening. Darth Vader posed with visitors who left with photos of the themselves and the Star Wars character.
Construction was completed last month and sales have been brisk.
"We sold more new VWs in August than any month since we've owned the franchise for the past 20 years," Bierwirth said.
"The economy has definitely turned around, banks are lending money again and people are buying," he said.
The dealership at 4827 14th St. W. offers 160 new and 136 used VWs on its expansive lot. During the construction photos were taken every day from a camera mounted on a light post. Bierwirth would like to create a time lapse project to use in a commercial and on the dealership's website.The dealership saw its total sales jump nearly 30 percent in 2011. Total revenue last year was $16 million and Bierwirth expects gross sales this year to exceed $20 million.
The dealership employs 38 workers.