Blankenship said she opened I-77 Chevrolet for her Ripley community. When the dealership closed for the second time, a part of town that was once well lit and busy -- as well as a job provider -- was difficult to look at, she said.
The empty lot "left a big black hole in our economy and community," Blankenship said.
"We [bought] it to re-energize the community. In a small community, to have a half-mile right in the middle of your town that once was thriving and beautiful to go to nothing is disturbing to drive by," she said.
Blankenship -- who has worked in the car business since she graduated from high school -- has co-owned I-77 Ford ever since it needed an owner and operator more than 11 years ago, she said.
I-77 Chevrolet -- which Blankenship said she "got a good buy on" but wouldn't say how much -- has a beautiful facility that needed only new tiling and cleaning, she said.
Forty-five employees have been hired, but Blankenship still needs to hire five more car salespeople.
I-77 Ford and I-77 Chevrolet will have the same business model, but they're not going to look the same because they sell different car models, she said.
The Ford lot has $2 million in inventory and the more spacious Chevy lot has $4.5 million in vehicles, Blankenship said.
The two dealerships cover 15 acres of space combined.
The grand opening is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
The first 300 guests will get a free baseball. Apple pie and hot dogs will be served all day. There will be door prizes each hour, with a grand door prize of a flat screen TV given away at 4 p.m.
For information, call I-77 Chevrolet at 304-514-7077.
Reach Megan Workman at megan.work...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.