Batavia Auto Dealership To Close After 81 Years

BATAVIA, Ill. (CBS) — After 81 years in business, Avenue Motor Sales in Batavia will close its doors for the last time on Friday.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports, a piece of history will be gone forever in the far west suburb.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Berner reports

Avenue Motor Sales, at 1998 McKee St. in Batavia, has sold cars since 1930. It is a fourth generation, family-owned business.

The name, Avenue, comes from the days when cars were sold from a storefront.

When the dealership moved from Batavia Road to its present site at McKee Street and Randall Road in 1988, there were still cornfields nearby.

But on Friday, all those years of history will come to an end.

The owners say they had tried to survive, but General Motors would no longer supply cars. The service and parts division closed in September.

“We thought we would try to survive and we did, but when we lost our franchise we lost our floor plan, which was the financing for used car inventory,” owner John Clark said.

One of the reasons the dealership is closing, the owners tell the Aurora Beacon-News, is the state of the industry. In part, Clark blames the Obama administration.

Avenue Chevrolet was one of 1,100 dealerships General Motors decided to close after automakers approached the Obama administration for a bailout to avoid bankruptcy.

“We were one of the ones selected to close,” Clark said. “It is sad the Obama administration didn’t consider Main Street when they were worried about bailing out Wall Street.”

The dealership had been known as Avenue Chevrolet, but lost its Chevrolet franchise in June of 2009. At that point, Clark said they brought back the use of their Avenue Motor Sales corporate name. The dealer sold Chevrolets until Oct. 31, 2010.

Clark, 60, said the closing of the dealership is difficult for the family but it will also have a far-reaching economic impact in Batavia and for businesses that benefit from auto sales.

His two sons, 32-year old J.D. and 28-year old Jim, have been working for their father and have had to relocate to Ohio and Florida for work. They would have been the fourth generation to assume ownership of the car dealership.

“The closing of the dealership has also split up my family,” Clark said. “I’ll have to find a job. My retirement was invested in the dealership.”

Clark’s grandfather, William H. Clark, was a Chevrolet dealer for 48 years, and his father, Donald W. Clark, took over the business around 1946 and was a Chevrolet dealer for 50 years.

In the good days, Avenue Motor Sales employed 48 people and generated $300,000 to $400,000 in sales tax revenue for Batavia.

Clark said the site of the dealership may be sold or leased.

The Aurora Beacon-News contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.

  • Satisfied Wickstrom Customer

    Although I certainly feel compassion for the workers at this dealership who find themselves unemployed, Mr. Clark omitted one of the reasons that the dealerships that closed were selected: poor customer satisfaction scores! Having experienced this horrendous treatment on several occasions (along with several friends and neighbors), I wrote a letter to Mr. Clark’s father (since deceased) that was NEVER answered! Although we live within walking distance of this dealership we choose to patronize a dealer (Wickstrom Chevrolet) that is over an hour’s round trip away (Wickstrom still has a copy of the letter to Mr. Clark posted on the wall in their service dept. as it praised Wickstrom for fixing Avenue’s mistakes!). Ironic / funny is the fact that several years after we stopped patronizing Avenue we registered for information on a new Chevrolet at the Chicago Auto Show and were contacted by a “Mr. Clark” with Avenue Chevrolet who assured us that the previous problems had been corrected and those responsible were gone…this is when we learned that the “Mr. Clark” who failed to so much as respond to our complaints was the Mr. Clark I was speaking with’s FATHER…since deceased! “Gone” = “Deceased” I guess…
    Mr. Clark criticizes the current administration for not helping “main street”??
    In this case, I disagree!

  • David and Anne Leatherberry

    A VERY SATISFIED Avenue Customer!

    Our family has purchased all our Chevrolet automobiles from Avenue Motor Sales for over 40 years. We were fortunate to deal with all Mr Clarks…Scoop, Donald, John and sons JD and Jim. Never in all that time did we ever receive poor service, disrespectuful service and any problem we had was dealt with promptly, politely and to our satisfaction. Many of our friends have also been lifetime Avenue customers and will agree with our representation of this fine company. Their walls were lined with awards and complimentary letters for their service. The writer above might have noticed if they had chosen to go into the dealership and actually speak with one of the “Mr. Clarks” instead of just writing some insulting letter. Since I have not seen the letter nor know the facts surrounding this customers problem, I will only say that knowing Mr Donald Clark all my life and of his positive, caring nature, either this letter never reached him or he tried to help this customer but the above customer didn’t want to accept the help. Mr Donal Clark went out of his way one cold, snowy Christmas eve when our car wouldn’t start. He took time away from his family to open the dealership, get a used car and drive it to our home for FREE so that we would not be without a car over the holiday. The day after Christmas, he towed our dead car into the dealership and had it fixed by the end of the day. What dealership would do that today! Would Wickstrom? Most likely not and certainly not for free!

    Avenue Motor Sales supported the Batavia community with sponsering little league teams, the fireworks, BHS drivers Ed programs, convertibles for the BHS homecomings as well has brought in needed revenue in taxes to support our beautiful city. Mr Clark was a past president of Rotary and a Mason…an active, supportive city businessman. Obviously, the above writer is not as he/she would rather drive an hour to purchase a car than to support the businesses that brought needed revenue to the city of Batavia.

    Avenue Motor Sales was honored by GM many times thoughout it’s 81 years of business. It will be greatly missed by our family and many other satisfied customers! I commend Mr John Clark for trying to keep this fine dealership going given the unfortunate fate dealt him by an administration that was clueless about the auto industry and the effect the closings would have on our already strained economy. The closing of Avenue Motor Sales was NOT for poor customer service…the “Mr Clarks” as well as 1100 other dealerships were closed because they did not support the current administration…clear and simple! Not only was John Clark’s family affected but also rearly 500,000 jobs were lost with all these dealership closings throught the country. And, the final kicker , “mr satisfied Wickstrom customer,” none of these dealerships had to close, for any reason , as they didn’t cost GM anything to run, contrary to what Obama lied about! Alll were self financed franchises. Mr John Clark is correct…. the current adminstration didn’t have and still has no interest in helping “main street” businesses.

    Mr Wickstrom customer, before you criticize, maybe you should get your facts straight and look at the total picture. I am quite sure had you pursued your problem with the “gone=deceased” Mr Clark at the time you incured your problem, your outcome would have been a positive one. He has been gone over 10 years now and to judge a business from an experience from that long ago is insulting to Mr Clark and immature on your part! We have no clue where we will go in the future to purchase our cars and get the great service that was provided by Avenue Motor Sales but we do know we will miss the dealership and fabulous Clark family Chevy tradition. Good Luck John Clark and family… thank you for 81 great years!

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