CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks
ales consultant Eric Hall shows Betsy Matthies the inside of a Ford Expedition on Tuesday at Hamilton Ford on Prince Street. Matthies and her husband, who is stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, ordered a Ford Focus.
By Tonya Garner: CNJ Staff Writer
Auto salesman Eric Hall said he is reaping the benefits of Clovis residents’ renewed sense of economic security.
In the week since the announcement of a new mission for Cannon Air Force Base, Hall said he has had an influx of customers looking to upgrade vehicles.
Hall, who has been employed by Hamilton Big Country Ford for two-and-a-half years, said he has seen a noticeable increase in civilian customers.
“I’ve sold five cars in the past seven days,” he said, “all to non-military.” Hall cited the news that a Special Ops Wing from Florida would take over the base in the next year as the reason residents are loosening their purse strings.
“People were saving their money for the last year,” Hall said, “because they thought they might have to relocate if Cannon closed.”
Sales to military customers remained steady despite the uncertainty of Cannon’s future, Hall said.
“Military personnel are always going to buy cars,” Hall said. “If the base had closed, they would still have their jobs.”
The salesman said his customers are buying mid-size SUVs and compact cars, but trucks remain popular as well.
A lifelong Clovis resident, Hall said the mood among prospective buyers has been overwhelmingly positive.
“People are happy and relieved,” Hall said. “They (customers) are relaxed about buying a car.”
Clovis real estate agent Carolyn Spence said business has picked up.
“It’s a healthy market,” Spence said. “It’s not so hot that the prices are unreasonable, and it’s not so cold people are having to sell at a discount.”
According to Spence, she has shown properties to several out-of-towners and expects more interest in the future.
“The real estate industry never really died in Clovis,” Spence said, “it’s just picking up pace again.”
Katina Jones, marketing manager for a Clovis employment service, said her company hopes to benefit from the new mission as well. ItsQuest Inc. places employees in temporary and permanent positions throughout the area. According to Jones, she is hoping to place several general laborers at Cannon for the future construction projects. “I am actively pursuing the contracts,” Jones said.
Commercial real estate agent Bill Giese said although the new mission at Cannon is a plus, it won’t affect chain stores or shopping center’s decisions to build in Clovis.
“Large businesses are not thinking Clovis is hot,” Giese said, “Southwest Cheese has more of an impact.”
The owner of Giese Investment Realty Co. said the biggest impact of the new mission is psychological.
“The idea of a new mission makes people think Clovis is a progressive town,” Giese said, “but it (mission) is not going to make Clovis blossom into a metropolitan overnight.”