It has been four years since Pine River has had a car dealership on the corner of Barclay Avenue and Highway 371. That was when the Pine Motors dealership closed its doors in Pine River and a tradition spanning generations came to a close.
On Jan. 2, the old lot gained new life.
It was then that Tim Sweet of Brainerd began selling used cars from this lot. The lot was leased from Sweet’s friend, Randy Barnum, of Napa Auto.
Sweet’s dealership is stocked with 18 cars of various makes and models, all of which have been personally inspected by Sweet, who is no amateur in the world of auto repair.
Sweet has been repairing automobiles since the late 1970s when he became a mechanic at Downtown Standard in Brainerd. He worked as a mechanic for 15 years until 1990, when he moved on to become a car salesman with Dondelinger Chevrolet in Brainerd.
Over the next 22 years Sweet worked as a sales manager with Mills GM of Brainerd, Falls GM in Little Falls and Miller Auto Plaza of St. Cloud. Today Sweet uses those years of experience in his new business.
“I have 22 years of dealer contacts, dealer friends. So I have the ability to find what you need if I don’t have it. Obviously, stocking 20 cars, I don’t have the capability to stock a car for everyone,” Sweet said.
Since opening, Sweet has enjoyed his favorite part of the business — the people.
“Business is good, people are nice,” he said. “We sold to a beekeeper the other day, he had like 500 hives with 20 thousand bees in it a piece. It was pretty amazing to hear him talk about it.”
Sweet is the only member of his business, though he benefits from his nearness to other businesses. Sweet shares a building not only with Napa, but also Northland Steam Cleaners and Master Care Automotive. Sweet leases a stall from Napa where he does auto inspections and standard maintenance on his vehicles after hours. Sweet also has detailing and mechanical work done by his adjoining businesses.
Every car in Sweet’s lot has been inspected, tuned up and detailed in Sweet’s building. Sweet only sells used cars, but he knows some people just want to buy new.
“As part of my service what I want to do is take care of people. If they want a new car I’ll do the shopping for them and it won’t cost them anything,” he said. “Through my dealer contacts I’ll get them the best deal and save them all the headaches of going dealership to dealership to find a car. I’ve been on the retail end so I know what to do for them.”
Though it has only been open a short time, Sweet Cars has already attracted attention, not only from customers, but also the local Chamber of Commerce.
“As executive director of the chamber I’m tickled to have that intersection busy again,” John Wetrosky said. “I would say that in all my years Pine River’s always been known as a center for purchasing cars, and hopefully Tim’s new business there will keep that going.”