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story.lead_photo.caption Pete Mankins, left, and Brant Smith, right, received Samurai swords from the Nissan corporate office Friday during their grand reopening celebration of the Smith Mankins Nissan dealership, located at 3707 Summerhill Road. The remodel has made the dealership high-tech and is complete with touch-screen tablets for shoppers to customize their driving experience. Staff photo by Jennifer Middleton

Smith Mankins Nissan celebrated its grand reopening in style Friday, complete with a visit from the Nissan corporate office and a proclamation from the city of Texarkana, Texas, recognizing the dealership's 50 years in business.

Misti Bowers with Nissan's corporate office said Smith Mankins was the oldest Nissan dealership in Texas and opened Dec. 4, 1969 as a Datsun dealership.

"You guys are thriving and just getting started. It's very exciting to see what you guys are going to do and we are excited about your new dealership," she said. "We've been to a lot of grand openings in a lot of different cities and this is by far one of the best turnouts. I just love the community support I have personally seen and I've been to quite a few of them. It feels like family and I love that about Texarkana."

The redesign includes lots of steel, glass, sleek offices and showrooms, all equipped with cutting-edge technology to enhance the customer's Nissan experience.

It also includes touch-screen monitors to assist buyers in custom-designing their automobile by allowing them to add accessories. Interactive tablets loaded with brochures for the vehicles are also provided for customers. That information is tied to the Smith Mankins website and helps the dealership know exactly what the customer is looking for.

The center of the new showroom, which can now hold five vehicles, features a curved, well-lit display for the dealership's central feature vehicle and tech islands with tablets beside each vehicle to display additional detailed information. The showroom also features a 55-inch wall-mounted tablet for customer's shopping ease.

Bowers presented two Samurai swords to the dealership in honor of the grand opening.

"In folklore, we know the Samurai fought with honor and pride and Nissan looks forward to partnering with you in opportunities and overcoming any challenges that lie ahead," she said. "We look forward to a long and profitable partnership and I say keep it in the family for another 50 years."

She also said the best is yet to come.

"All of our stores that have gone through these facility renovations have seen great success and a wonderful lift after completing them and we're excited to see what's in store for the future," Bowers said.

Pete Mankins thanked the dealership's past and present employees and partners.

"All in all, the best part about being a car dealer all these years is all the wonderful people and the characters I've met," he said. "I've enjoyed every minute. I'd do it all again the same way."

Brant Smith thanked the dealership's families, the community and employees for their dedication and daily hard work.

Texas-side Mayor Bob Bruggeman read the proclamation honoring the business' 50-year achievement.

James Bramlett, a former Texarkana, Texas, mayor who serves on the chamber's board of directors, also thanked Smith and Mankins for what they have done for the Texarkana community.

"We just want to tell you on behalf of the community of Texarkana, the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce appreciates what your families have contributed to Texarkana in our economic development and our growth, the past and the future for the families y'all have supported in this community," he said. "It's just tremendous that now that legacy continues with Smith Mankins Nissan."

For more information on the dealership, stop by 3707 Summerhill Road.

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