OSU Student Gabriel Fitzpatrick Breaks Into Auto Sales Market With Growing Car-Flipping Business
Established by business marketing major Gabriel Fitzpatrick at OSU, Rave Auto Sales has been providing students in the valley with less expensive and more reliable vehicles since August 2017. Fitzpatrick has been running his business from 4th street in Downtown Corvallis while taking a year off school, as a way to help pay for his college education and receive in-state tuition. His focus of flipping cars is with Honda and Toyota because of how reliable they are, but will occasionally buy from other brands.
Fitzpatrick was born in Chippenham, England, then later moved to Napa Valley, California with his family. Growing up, he learned about cars from his uncle, who is a manufacturing engineer, and his grandfather, who owns a shop and shows cars. He originally wanted to go to school for mechanics, but ended up going to OSU for marketing because some of his friends were going there.
Since he was sixteen, he has been invested in buying, renovating, and selling vehicles. His first car was transformed with the help of a friend’s mother, who knew how to sell a car. After test driving around fifteen cars, they found one in good enough shape legally and physically to use it. Before this journey, however, he sold socks and iPhones his freshman and sophomore years in high school.
He first sold socks to folks on the East Coast by purchasing Nike Elite socks from Footlocker, then would take the receipt, post them online, and sell them for more than triple the amount they were worth. His friends became jealous of his success and one wrote a fake email from Nike, informing him that they were planning to sue, and scared him into deleting everything.
Soon after, he started buying phones on Craigslist and selling them for at least double, depending on the price trends the day he decided to post them. Fitzpatrick had an hour commute to school and the post office was on the way, so every morning he would use this convenience and drop off a shipment. After being cheated by dishonest buyers who would return an empty box after filing a complaint about the phone, Fitzpatrick started delivering the phones in person.
His iPhone selling came to an end around the age of sixteen when he got beat up and cheated by two different customers in the span of thirty minutes. After scanning hundred dollar bills at Target, the first customer, “was literally counting them out in front of me and just shoves me back, takes the phone, and sprints to his car.” Being a track athlete, Fitzpatrick sprinted after him, which led to the customer beating him up for the phone in the parking lot.
After retrieving the phone, he called another interested buyer and asked to get him away from the scene quickly. Once the second buyer came, he handed Fitzpatrick a stack of fake hundred dollar bills and drove off, leaving him traumatized.
Fast-forward to 2020, Fitzpatraick shared that he struggles with a lack of capital – he has no money for inventory, lacks time and resources, marketing, and location. Fitzpatrick is currently faced with moving his business elsewhere, because the owners of the current establishment he uses are selling. He has until June to find a new location, but already has a few in mind, including a lot between Corvallis and Philomath. Despite the upcoming relocation, he plans to grow microgreens in addition to selling cars. His hopes are to sell them to local restaurants and at local markets.
Some things he has learned since starting this business is how to tell over the phone if a car is worth checking out. He noted that tone of voice matters, and that enthusiastic and overly-knowledgeable sellers are a red flag. Some things he looks for are a correct vin number, an odometer that has not been setback, and he even drives the car to make sure it would be enjoyable for customers.
“The biggest thing, in summary, to flip a car is knowing obviously if it’s going to be in good mechanical condition or not, because if it’s got a bad motor, it’s not even worth checking out half the time.”
Helping run the business is business management major from LBCC, Talon Dennis, and Fitzpatrick’s roommate Chris Castillo, who helps with sales, but will soon help with marketing. Dennis has been apart of the business and helps with the logistics, transporting cars, and miscellaneous tasks, while Castillo has been apart of the journey for about a year and a half and is receiving 6 credits from OSU for being apart of the business.
Dennis is glad to be apart of a business where he feels taken care of, and has learned, “So much in the past month has put more responsibility on me. Working with these guys everyday is a new challenge, but it’s really fun because you figure it out, and it’s something we can talk about at the end of the day and laugh about it when everything is wrapped up.”
Fitzpatrick hopes the future will bring him business in more college towns in the United States, as well as in RVs and ultimately real estate. He also likes the idea of having a used-car lot in Bend, where he can buy and flip trucks.
Story and Photos Arianna Stahlbaum