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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.