Suddenly, Detroit Stops Fighting The Dealerships Of The Future

It gets out of the way of megadealers like AutoNation and CarMax

Jon E. Lancaster, who owns four small auto dealerships in Madison, Wis., worries that his days in retailing may be numbered. Glitzy, computerized auto superstore chains, such as AutoNation USA and Circuit City Stores Inc.'s CarMax Auto Superstores, are spreading across the nation. Lancaster and many mom-and-pop dealers lack the cheap capital that's available to the newcomers, who can afford to outdo him on everything from inventory and spiffed up showrooms to high-profile advertising campaigns. "I do feel very threatened," he says.

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