Marc Powell is Executive Director of the New Mexico Independent Auto Dealers Association.

Thinking about buying your next car online? Before you do, please take a moment to consider the ripple effect on our neighbors, our community and our state. In the 60 years since the New Mexico Independent Automobile Dealers Association began serving member dealers, a universe of entrepreneurs have created dealerships, service centers and other small automotive businesses across the state. This network of local automotive professionals are essential to New Mexico’s auto-centric transportation infrastructure. Local independent auto dealers employ thousands of people, serve on local boards, donate to schools and support Little Leagues. Their children go to school with yours. Independent auto dealers are hardworking family businesses that serve New Mexico’s communities by providing safe and reliable vehicles at all price ranges. 

You might assume the dxecutive director and former car dealer would be biased. Perhaps that is true. That said, my job allows the privilege of spending almost every day in contact with this diverse group. One thing is sure, these small businessfolk work hard to adhere to the myriad of federal, state, county and city regulations designed to ensure safe and reliable transportation for all of us. They train on compliance, call for advice and are always seeking best practices and better ways to serve the community. I’ve been with dealers on coat drives and fundraisers for schools and churches and the homeless. From the vantage point of one who knows them well, these entrepreneurs are worthy of your support and your dollars.

When you buy a car online, not a penny of your money stays in New Mexico. The car is imported, and your cash is exported. So the unintended consequence of buying online is that each imported vehicle begins to chip away at an important public utility, starting with dealers. And there is a cascade effect. No independent garage got to prepare that car for sale. No local audio shop got to put in a new stereo. No local auto detailer cleaned it. No local bank or credit union got to finance that vehicle. No local tire company got to balance the tires. The combined effect has the potential to devastate New Mexico’s automobile transportation infrastructure, upon which we all rely. 

Before you take the leap into the internet of cars, please consider the vast array of options right here, nearby. Consider using your transportation dollars to support New Mexico’s licensed, professional independent automobile dealers. They are the backbone of our state’s transportation infrastructure. Besides, if there is an issue with the car, would you rather wait on hold with an outsourced 800 number or call your local dealer’s cell phone, who is just down the road? And who do you think is more motivated to help? The corporate behemoth from out of state who took the cash and left? Or your neighbor? 

*Wheels is a paid advertising section of The Paper. proudly supported by the New Mexico Independent Auto Dealers Association.

This story is a staff report from The Paper.