RIPLEY, W.Va. -- Robin Blankenship's I-77 Ford in Ripley survived a recession that she refused to participate in.
Now the co-owner of the car dealership has opened a second dealership just a couple of miles down the road off Interstate 77's Fairplain exit.
Blankenship bought the former Tate-Porter Family Auto Mall -- which had been the well-known Tom Peden Country for more than 20 years -- in July. The half-mile long property that had been vacant for two years is now I-77 Chevrolet.
The Ripley Chevrolet dealership, which opened last month, is hosting a grand opening "Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet" on Saturday.
Although the recent economic downturn closed hundreds of car dealerships nationwide, Blankenship said she didn't lay off one employee or cut pay. The I-77 Ford dealership thrived, she said.
Instead of watching news inside the dealership, Blankenship said the television played TV Land and avoided negativity as much as possible.
"We didn't participate in the recession. The day the economy collapsed we had a big meeting in our showroom and I said I would see a pay cut before anyone else and we would be fine if we just continued to do the things we know how to do, which is sell," Blankenship said Wednesday. "Most of our business comes from word of mouth and we've really relied on that during the recession. That's what brought us through."
Opening the I-77 Chevrolet this fall made sense, considering that "car sales are up and the economy is on the upswing," she said.
In 2011, vehicle sales continued to increase from the year before, according to a report by the National Automobile Dealers Association.
Dealership revenue nationwide topped $609 billion, growing by 10.2 percent in 2011, according to the NADA.
Sales for the nation's new-vehicle dealerships reached more than 12 million units in 2011.
As of the first of the year, there were 17,540 new-car dealerships in the U.S., compared to 17,700 in 2011 and 18,460 in 2010, according to NADA.
As of Jan. 1, West Virginia had 143 new-car dealerships, compared to 1,307 in California, the most of any state, and just 32 in Alaska.