Dallas Dealer Parties for Charity

While the event features cars sold by Park Place, it’s also meant to represent the good life.

Featured in Automotive News on Oct 20, 2019 written by Sarah Kominek

Charitable donations can make you feel good. Sometimes, they can even produce outsize returns.

As part of its third annual Luxury and Supercar Showcase — a high-end celebration of sheet metal and other fine things — Park Place Dealerships of Dallas donated a 2020 Lexus UX compact crossover for raffle. The contribution — a model that starts at $33,325 — delivered a big return: It raised $141,000 for the Baylor Scott & White foundation to support the medical center in Irving, Texas.

That’s almost five times the amount raised at the first showcase, said Liz Shafton, marketing manager for Park Place and director of the event since its inception.

“It was really exciting we were able to grow so much,” she said.

The showcase, held last month at the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Dallas, began in 2017 as Park Place’s 30th anniversary celebration, said founder and CEO Ken Schnitzer.

Since then, Park Place has displayed more exotic vehicles — and more of them — each year for “people to associate the Park Place brand with the finest vehicles in the world,” he said.

“In our industry, sometimes there’s a sales event in honor of your anniversary,” Schnitzer said. “We didn’t want to do what the norm was.”

The company has long celebrated its esteemed brands at public events and was highlighted in a Best Practices article months before the first showcase in 2017.

“It turned out to be a wonderful success, so we built on it and made it an annual event.”

About 4,500 people attended this year’s showcase, Schnitzer said, up from 2,500 at the first one.

Lifestyle event

Schnitzer founded Park Place starting with a single Mercedes-Benz dealership in 1987. Park Place also sells Lexus, Porsche, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, Bentley, Maserati, Rolls-Royce, McLaren and Karma vehicles at 16 dealerships across the state. Two more are set to open in Austin in 2020.

While the event features the vehicles sold by Park Place, with more than $100 million worth on display, it’s also meant to represent the good life.

“It’s not just about cars,” Schnitzer said. “It’s a lifestyle luxury event. It’s about enjoying the beauty of the cars with fashion, food and live music. Just people creating memorable experiences that we hope translate into brand loyalty.”

One of the highlights of the six-hour event, Shafton said, is a fashion show sponsored for the last two years by Highland Park Village shopping center in Dallas.

Attendees are encouraged to wear “sensible” shoes with “what they would wear to the Kentucky Derby, or for a stroll in beautiful gardens on a Sunday afternoon,” Shafton said.

There’s even a hat contest, with awards for winners. “It’s a little more elevated than what you would typically see at your average car show.”

Food, fun and more

A VIP lounge includes offerings from 20 Dallas-area restaurants and bars, Shafton said. “We have crafted cocktails from Tito’s, Aviation American Gin, Maker’s Mark and Don Julio Tequila.”

Food and beverages are included for general attendees, including food trucks with ice cream as well as Brazilian, Asian and other cuisines.

“We also work really hard to do some great interactive things for the kiddos of all ages,” Shafton said.

Kids can race Hot Wheels on a 60-foot track to try to win the toy car of their choice.

The showcase this year had two stages, indoors and outside, that featured various types of music to “fit the mood” throughout the day, Shafton said. The Dallas String Quartet performed earlier in the day, followed by local bands and DJs.

“There’s a lot happening on both stages,” Shafton said. “It’s really meant to have a local and regional flair and build a musical crescendo throughout the day.”

The group is really proud of how the showcase has grown, Shafton said.

“We’ve been able to celebrate in a really powerful and impactful way,” she said. “There’s so many enthusiasts in our region who have decided to come out and support [this effort].

We’re just super excited to see where this could potentially take us 10 or 15 years from now.”