Public Transport

Car brands are reinventing dealerships as lifestyle destinations

Recent months have seen an increase in brands catering to young people’s desire for multipurpose retail environments by offering up their stores as interactive spaces. Activewear brands are opening full-service fitness studios, and auto brands are following suit, putting car showrooms to more inventive use.


In a bid to lure customers without the hard sell, Cadillac has launched a permanent space that highlights the brand’s intersection with art, fashion, and food. Called Cadillac House, the sprawling 12,000-square-foot hub is located on the ground floor of the company’s global headquarters in NYC’s Soho neighborhood and serves as a public meeting space and venue for events, vehicle exhibitions, and cultural collaborations. Recent executions have included an interactive art installation produced by Visionaire, a CFDA retail lab featuring inaugural designer Timo Weiland, and coffee and light fare served up by local coffeehouse JOE.


The Mercedes-Benz Burlington dealership, located in Ontario, Canada, is tapping into the ubiquitous wellness trend by offering an on-site spa and salon—the first car dealership known to do so. Customers can enjoy complimentary manicures and styling sessions at the dealership’s Q spa as they wait for their vehicles to be serviced, or can partake in a round of golf via an on-site simulator. A full-service café is also available, and employees are trained as baristas by a gourmet coffee specialist to ensure that the service is up to snuff. Expansion plans for the ever-creative campus could soon include a movie theater as well.


Though less conceptually ambitious than the Cadillac House or a car-dispensing vending machine, some dealerships are finding that simple moves like offering appealing on-site dining can be the first step towards making showrooms more approachable. To wit, Big Two Toyota in Chandler, AZ added an Internet café and deli, Café 1250, that features gourmet coffee and light lunch fare with a side of free Wi-Fi . Dealerships overseas are likewise jumping on the food-forward trend. Volvo Korea recently surprised car shoppers with a pop-up café called House of Sweden—a nod to the company’s Swedish roots—featuring premium coffee and artisanal fare.