We all hear a familiar refrain from last-minute shoppers at this time of year: The malls are too crowded and I can't find a parking spot.
For those aggrieved souls, I have a solution: Head over to your local new car dealership for those last-minute stocking stuffers.
Dealers offer a huge array of products and services that would please any car lover on your shopping list. These items are widely available, reasonably priced and greatly appreciated by recipients of all ages.
Let's start in the parts department. Many parts departments showcase an assortment of brand merchandise, such as die cast model cars, winter jackets, license plate holders, T-shirts, coffee mugs, hats and pens.
Many items are adorned with identifiable brand logos. A windbreaker or a stainless steel coffee mug with a Ford, Toyota, Corvette logo on it would be a welcome gift for the holidays for anyone who drives one of those brands.
Dealer and manufacturer websites offer brand merchandise, complete with photos and easy payment options. Any merchandise on these websites can be ordered from the parts department at your local new car dealership and picked up with a day or two.
The two brands that I represent have online stores that sell brand-specific merchandise. Audi (www.boutique.audi.ca) and Volkswagen (www.vwcollection.ca) both offer a range of clothing, accessories, collectibles and sports gear.
In researching this column, I also came across a Ford website (merchandise.ford.com) that offers merchandise commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang. What Mustang owner wouldn't appreciate a Mustang 50th Anniversary Desk Clock or Pack-n-Go Cooler Bag?
Toyota Canada has a website (mytoyotastyle.ca) that has a collection of merchandise commemorating Toyota's 50th Anniversary in Canada. The site offers technology items, business accessories, men's and women's apparel, golf shirts, golf balls, you name it.
Dealers also carry a full line of automobile accessories. Think alarm systems, parking assist sensors, chrome grilles and wheel locks, roof racks, floor mats, seat covers and remote starters. All would make ideal gifts or stocking stuffers.
If nothing in the parts department strikes your fancy, then try visiting the service department. Gift certificates can be purchased for oil changes, engine-tune ups, performance wheel packages, or scheduled maintenance.
Detailing packages are also a novel gift item. Most dealerships offer detailing packages starting in the $50 - $70 range that could be purchased in the form of a gift certificate.
I know from experience that dealership gift certificates are extremely well received during the holidays. Cash-strapped motorists are only too happy to redeem them in January or February, when their holidays bills are coming due.
Of course, the ultimate gift from a dealership would be a new car for a loved one. Maybe your child is starting college or university in the fall or your spouse's car needs to be replaced. A new car could be purchased and presented as a "gift for the entire family." We've delivered many cars as Christmas gifts over the years.
Still undecided? Consider buying a raffle ticket for a specially-modified 2015 Ford Mustang GT in support of Prostate Cancer Canada (www.prostatecancer.ca or www.tada.).
A parts or service advisor at any dealers would be more than happy to assist you and recommend the perfect gift item on the car enthusiast on your list this year.
If you have a few last-minute stocking stuffers to buy, why cope with the madness at the malls? Head to your local dealership and you'll be surprised at the diversity of products and services that are widely available and affordably priced.
On behalf of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season, and please drive safely.