Would you like to get a car but don’t have a dime to your name? No problem, what do you have to trade? In the upcoming GSN series, “Family Trade”, G-Stone Motors, a state-of-the-art car dealership in Middlebury, Vermont, is the place to be if you want to barter your way into a new set of wheels. Founder Gardner Stone will trade you a beautiful new car or truck for anything you’ve got that he thinks he can sell—pigs, a hot air balloon, coffins, maple syrup, dolls, a shoe collection. On this edition of INTERVUE, Dean talks to Mr. Stone to learn his secrets and the ways of bartering.
DR: What can viewers expect from “Family Trade”?
Gardner Stone:I want to viewers to understand, number 1 that this is real. I can’t stand these programs that, you know, are canned that they make things happen. When you see me or anybody in my dealership negotiating, this is the real deal. We are negotiating on this and whatever agreement we make with the customer, it’s in stone. I tell them right beforehand when the cameras are rolling, we don’t pre-discuss how much we’re going to pay or where were going to be, when the cameras are rolling, we are really in the negotiation process.
DR: Tell us about yourself
GS: I’m a 71-year-old gentleman that’s been in the automobile business since I was 23. I started as a salesman. Next, I went on my own when I was about 35 as a used car dealer. Then took on Ford & GMC in the early 80’s and never looked back. I kept right on going.
DR: How did you get into the car dealership business?
GS: Well back in the early 60’s, there weren’t really many jobs in Vermont, that’s where I’m from, and I always liked cars and always played with cars. I like anything that’s mechanical and one said “You know, I really like to try this. I’d like to see if I have what it takes to be a salesman. ” I begged a local dealership to hire me and after two to three weeks of begging, I was a salesman. Then I moved to another dealership as a manager and then I became a truck manager in the 1960’s. In the 1970’s, there were a lot of hot rod cars made by the major manufacturers. So I worked for the Chevy, Olds, Pontiac, Buick dealership and we had all the hot rod cars. I dragged race back then and had a great time that I got to the point where “you know what if I can do this on my own.” I second mortgaged my house, borrowed every damn dime I can borrow, had enough money to buy four cars and went off to be a used car dealer.
DR: Do you remember the very first car you ever sold?
GS: It was a ’62 Chevy Impala, black and this was in ’64. I sold it to my in-laws neighbor.
DR: Speaking of car, what is your favorite car?
GS: Well that just recently changed. My favorite car, in the past, was the GM Muscle cars of the 60’s. I had a real passion for those but Ford just came out with the Super Cobra Jet. It’s really a drag racing car and I got one of those last fall. I’m telling you it’s a hot rod! I’m so thrilled with this thing that it’s my favorite car of all time. IN fact, I am going to Bradenton, FL to go drag racing with it this weekend.
DR: So what is the color, I have to ask.
GS: Its White with the lettering and everything on it. It’s got a 302 cubic inch supercharged motor. Recently, I went to race in Milan, MI and before the weekend was over I did 9.17 seconds at 152 MPH! I really want to get myself programmed in this car and I feel that it’s got a lot of potential.
DR: I read somewhere that you used your hobbies to promote the company’s publicity and you have a pulling tractor called “The General”. I could not believe what I saw in the video earlier today, it just blew me away. Can you tell us more about the General?
GS: The General is an unlimited modified pulling tractor that has four jet turbine motors in it right off a Chinook helicopter.
DR: What’s the most unique item that anyone has traded in for a new set of wheels?
GS: You know that’s a question that has been asked to me for many of times. I just took in something two weeks ago. I took in a jet turbine powered barstool.
DR: A jet turbine powered barstool, really?
GS: If you look up, Hossfly, they make with a Chevy V-8 motor in them and make them with a turbine. Also, I took in a complete band saw sawmill that’s about 150 feet long. You name it and I negotiate on it. I have taken in airplanes, houses, property. I’ll try anything, I don’t care. Everything’s worth something as long as it’s saleable to me and legal to own.
DR: How did you learn the art of bartering?
GS: I’m just an old Vermonter and it just came natural. Everything’s worth something, you just have to figure out what you can sell it for and the value you can put on it so you can sell it and make a dollar with it. We don’t have any experts that we can just call in to evaluate anything. You have to go by the seat of your pants. You have to look at it and say “Now what would I like to have this for? If I was going to buy it, what would I think I would put in it?” Then I talk to other salespeople, put a number on it and let it fly.
DR: What is your secret to making a great deal?
GS: My major goal is when I trade with someone, I want my customer happy. I want them happy with us, the dealership and their purchase.
Thank you, Gardner, for the interview. Be sure to catch the master of barter in the new GSN original series, Family Trade, premiering this Tuesday, March 12thwith two original half-hour episodes back-to-back at 8:00pm and 8:30pm ET/PT – only on GSN!