2 Nissan dealerships close

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An inability to renew bank financing has forced Melody's Bellevue Nissan and Melody's Kirkland Nissan to lock their doors and clear the Bellevue store's showroom floor.

"We've temporarily closed two Nissan stores, and we plan to reopen them in the next week when we secure more financing," said Dave Swanson, president of the Melody dealerships.

Although Swanson said he is "reasonably certain" he can secure more money to reopen, Nissan has issued the two dealerships a notice of termination.

"If he wants to reopen his doors," said Dierdre Dickerson, spokeswoman with Nissan's North American headquarters in Gardena, Calif., "we will have to be sure he can continue business and meet the standards of the operating contract."

Nissan automatically triggered the notice when Swanson closed his doors recently and was no longer serving customers, she said.

To regain his contract, Swanson will have to renegotiate with Nissan's dealer group. Dickerson said she didn't know how long that process might take.

Meanwhile, phone calls to the Bellevue store on Northup Way have gone unanswered, and customers who stop by will see a note saying the store is "closed today."

Swanson said customers have been taken care of but should call the Kirkland store on Northeast 116th Street if there are problems.

He said he had no deadline for receiving funding but did not know how long he could go with the dealerships' doors closed.

"I wouldn't say this is a typical dealership environment," he said. "Everyone (lenders) is cautious right now."

Swanson said sales at the two Nissan operations dropped from 20 cars a day to two or three after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Despite the attacks and the economic downturn, auto sales nationwide were strong last month, helped by heavy promotions such as zero-percent financing.

The industry saw total vehicle sales last month rise 24 percent over the previous year. Nissan sales were up 9 percent.

Swanson also operates a Subaru store and Hyundai store in Kirkland; both remain open.

He said his dealerships combined account for nearly $110 million in annual sales.

Tricia Duryee can be reached at 206-464-3283 or tduryee@seattletimes.com.