The ripples from the auto-workers' strike against General Motors Corp. are reaching dealer showrooms. Some customers are itching to buy before their choices dwindle and haggling becomes even tougher.
"I was concerned about trying to get one as soon as possible," Sam Martin said as he tried to decide between a gray and a green Chevrolet Suburban at a Memphis, Tenn., dealership. "In a couple of weeks when they start selling out, they're going to be able to get a higher price for what they're sitting on. It's the rule of supply and demand."Strikes by workers at two plants in Flint, Mich., threaten to shut down GM's North American production within days. And with GM's inventories whittled down by months of strong sales, supplies of new cars could grow tight within a few weeks.
In suburban Milwaukee, Richard Andresen, 60, was shopping for a car at Renner Oldsmobile in Wauwatosa and considering the possibilities with his 37-year-old son Mark.
"They could say, `This is what we got. Take it or leave it,' " the younger Andresen said.
Don Spangler, sales manager at a Knoxville, Tenn., dealership, said the United Auto Workers' strike that began six days ago at a GM stamping plant in Flint, Mich., wouldn't affect his two-month stock of some 400 cars and trucks for weeks.
But he said the strike that began Thursday night at GM's Delphi East complex, also in Flint, could change things quickly. The plant makes parts for nearly every car in GM's North American fleet.
"That's the one that will lock everybody up," Spangler said.
What effect? "It will sure make the products we've got a little more unique," he said.
Because of the uncertainty of the strike, the Andresens near Milwaukee said they would take a closer look at what GM's competitors have.
"In fact, we're going next door right now," said Mark, referring to a nearby Ford dealer.
That's not what Joseph J. Renner II wants to hear. "Any time there's a strike, there's always a concern" about how it will affect business, said Renner, general manager of Renner Oldsmobile in Milwaukee.