(Bloomberg) — Even before the pandemic, Laura Ratliff hated car shopping. She was hunting for a well-worn, yet dependable, Toyota SUV, but the options didn’t much impress her. When she got to a certain point with a model or two, they failed inspections with her mechanic. It didn’t help that the dealers she met fit the stereotype—unctuous and inspiring zero trust. She peeked at some listings on Craigslist, too, but those sellers were sketchier still.
By May, as the Brooklyn, N.Y.-resident found herself in the epicenter of the virus outbreak in the U.S., she gave up the search. As a travel writer, Ratliff is often on the go, but for the time being, staying put seemed the best option. Her two dogs would be happy enough with their daily walks in Fort Greene Park rather than sprawling acres upstate.
Then she noticed a post on Instagram, from a