When brothers Shawn and David Ball acquired the former Bert Wolfe Toyota dealership in 2018, the property included a large building that once housed a Lowe’s home improvement store.
Bert Wolfe Toyota had used the building and surrounding lot for its used car department.
“We started out with no used cars, so we really didn’t need it when we first started the business. We’re operating fine out of one building,” Shawn Ball said, referring to the main Ball Toyota showroom in the Patrick Plaza.
Having that large building sitting there unused, it occurred to Ball that it could serve some useful purpose for the Charleston-area community.
That idea crystallized after Ball had a conversation with Margaret O’Neal, president of the United Way of Central West Virginia.
Ball Toyota worked closely with the United Way during the dealership’s Charity Giveaway last fall. At that event, Ball Toyota gave away $55,000 to area high schools as well as to the United Way of Central West Virginia.
“I mentioned to her that if she ever needed anything in that building that she was welcome to use it. Her eyes lit up. You could see the light bulb and the wheels turning all at the same time,” Ball said with a smile.
“She said it (the building) would provide endless possibilities, especially for nonprofits.”
Not long after that conversation, a nonprofit group that works with the United Way contacted Ball Toyota about using the building for its Christmas party.
“They had about 50 people,” he said.
The Ball Toyota building was also the site of a recent United Way fundraiser through the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection.
“They did a bingo (event) and had well over 100 people for a fundraiser. The DEP did it, but the proceeds went to the United Way.”
Ball even went so far as to purchase tables and chairs for the bingo fundraiser.
Additionally, Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin held a recent Town Hall meeting in the building, Ball said.
“They had a really good turnout — it was busy. It was really a surprise to me how many people showed up,” he said.
Ball enjoys seeing the building get used for good causes by nonprofit organizations and groups.
“I want people to feel comfortable about coming back to Patrick Plaza and be able to have events. It’s working out really well.”
Ball offers the building rent free to nonprofit groups that want to stage fundraising events and meetings there.
“They don’t have to pay anything to me,” he said. “I didn’t charge the city of Charleston anything.”
The building sits on a five-acre lot and has plenty of parking. Inside, there is a large, open space with restrooms.
“It’s an open space, so they can do any kind of gathering there. It’s an old Lowe’s building, so you can guess at the square footage inside the building. And there’s about three acres behind the building.”
Throwing out ideas, Ball said the building could serve as the beginning for a nonprofit group’s 5K charity run.
“They could do a 5K by running down the (Kanawha) Boulevard and back.”
When the weather warms up, the site would also be suitable for charity auto shows.
“I want it to be something that would benefit a charity,” he said.
To arrange the use of the building, nonprofit groups should send emails to Ball Toyota’s general manager, Bud Dickson: firstname.lastname@example.org
“And then we’ll forward them an application, because there are some liability waivers that they have to sign in order to use it,” Ball said.
Ball Toyota of Charleston is a full-service Toyota dealership offering sales, service and parts departments.
Shawn and David Ball also own Advantage Toyota in Barboursville and L&S Toyota in Beckley.
For more information about Ball Toyota, visit www.balltoyota.com