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Doors close at Auburn Nissan dealership

By: Journal Staff Report
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Auburn Nissan, which moved into the city limits four months ago in hopes of sales growth and sales tax dollars for Auburn, closed Thursday. Michael Barbieri, owner and general manager of the dealership, could not comment on the closure Thursday afternoon. Barbieri was meeting with business interests, adding an official statement would be released soon. Auburn Nissan was the subject of a front-page story in the Journal in January, a few weeks after Barbieri moved the dealership from its longtime location in North Auburn to 536 Grass Valley Highway, inside the city limits near Palm Avenue. At the time, Barbieri said the move was needed to meet Nissan’s dealership design standards. He also touted the building’s expanded service area, and that the 6,000-square-foot showroom “can accommodate the amount of business we’ll get at the new location.” Travis Weller, the dealership’s service manager, said he received a call from Barbieri on Wednesday night who told him that the doors would close on Thursday morning. “The writing was on the wall that they were going through some tough times,” Weller said. “We were all optimistic and business seemed to be picking up when the doors were shut.” In January, Barbieri said “I am excited to be able to bring commerce to the city of Auburn. Both as vice president of the (Auburn) chamber of commerce and as a member of Auburn Rotary. It’s hugely important to attract people to our town.” City government and business leaders welcomed the move then, saying the additional tax revenue and exposure was good for commerce that has shifted to the North Auburn area over the past decades. Thursday, Auburn City Manager Bob Richardson said the closure won’t impact city financial planning, but that he was sorry to see Barbieri close his business doors. “The city always made accommodations for the economic downturn, and this will have no affect on our projects,” Richardson said. Personally, Barbieri “has made great contributions to the community, and he and his dealership will be missed,” Richardson said. “Hopefully, he’ll stay.”