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Firm pins its hopes on a pink car nation

John Seelmeyer

Shelly Price isn’t short of ideas. Pink

paint, either.

Now it’s time to see if gallons of pink

paint and plenty of ideas can be combined

into a workable business as Price and her

partner, Linda Hansen, prepare for the fullscale

rollout of Diva’s in Sparks.

Not five months ago, the two fugitives

from life as corporate managers had modest

plans to open a locator service to help customers

women, mostly find the right

used car.

Since then, the modest plans have grown

almost daily. Diva’s now includes:

* An automotive sales operation.

* An auto-body shop.

* Smog and mechanic shops.

* A detail shop.

* An car-audio installation shop.

* Eight mobile units to provide automotive

mechanical or detailing work at a customer’s

home or business.

Before long, the owners hope Diva’s also

will include a delicatessen assuming

Sparks officials give their blessing as well

as a travel agency. Price and Hansen are

kicking around even more ideas to extend

the Diva’s brand.

Even as Diva’s extends far beyond its

original modest plan, however, the focus

remains the same: Target women.

Price, angered when she was treated a

sucker on a couple of car purchases, points

to statistics that women typically pay $600

to $1,000 more than men for the same car

even though women’s earnings are less than

those of men.

That, Hansen and Price vow, won’t happen

at Diva’s.

“We cater to women, and the focus is to

help them with their busy lives,” Price said.

A woman or man, for that matter

who buys a car at Diva’s will be contacted

90 days later for an oil change and car wash.

A mobile unit, one of the eight that have

contracted with Diva’s, will take care of the

work. In another 90 days, another call for

an oil change and a vehicle inspection.

Again, mobile units will be dispatched.

By the time the vehicle’s owner is ready

to trade, Price said, Diva’s will have a solid

relationship and a two-year maintenance

history it can share with the vehicle’s next

owner.

The initial business plan Hansen and

Price put together was simple. Down one

side of a sheet of paper, they listed every

hassle involved with buying a car. Down the

other, they listed ways Diva’s could address

the problems.

Which explains, in part, how a simple

locator service grew into a multifaceted

business. Hansen and Price were savvy

enough, however, to recognize that they

were getting stretched thin. Beyond the initial

vehicle sales operation, most of the services

provided by Diva’s are handled by contractors

who split their revenues with Diva’s

in exchange for the firm’s marketing and

steady flow of customers.

That’s where the pink comes in.

The very pink 20,000-square-foot Diva’s

building at 1250 Greg St. in Spark is visible

for blocks away even from aircraft landing

nearby and the same pink shows up

everywhere from business cards to the interior

of service bays in the auto-body shop.

“We’re not crazy about pink,” Hansen

acknowledged. “It’s a marketing thing.”

Neither of the partners has any experience

in the car business. Most of Price’s

experience is in purchasing for much larger

organizations. Hansen, meanwhile, worked

in corporation operations before launching

Diva’s.

And they’ve looked for people with a

similar lack of experience as they filled

many of the 20 position at Diva’s.

“We don’t want anyone with bad habits

diluting the plan we have,” said Price.

Diva’s was capitalized on a shoestring.

Hansen and Price have committed their life

savings and run up balances on personal

credit cards to get the operation going in

the building owned by Hansen.

But even though Diva’s is just barely

open, Price already is thinking about a second

location, maybe in the South Meadows

area. That, she figures, will take outside

investment capital.

And that, for Price becomes the germ of

another idea: How about a Diva’s branded

angel-investing group to provide financing

to start-up businesses owned by women?


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