My heart is sad this morning. I was informed yesterday that the car dealership that I used to run- until March of 2008 - is being forced out of business by the entity that holds the loan. As I spoke to someone that is still employed there, the transport trucks were loading up the inventory to take it to unknown destinations. I was asked yesterday by an uninvolved friend, why this upsets me, as I am no longer there and have nothing to do with the business. I thought about that for a while last night, because this goes so much deeper than the obvious. The obvious being that there are still four employees there that worked for me, before. They are all long term employees, that need the job to take care of their families. Each of them are good, quality people that are guilty of nothing other than staying with a ship that was obviously sinking, and continuing to try and keep things afloat. These people matter to me, they are in my heart. I am saddened for them. I know the feelings that come next, the almost shock that follows behind losing your job, your identity, years of memories. The next reason that I am so devastated is also obvious, Bill---the prior owner, will now have little, if any recourse on collecting his money from the snake that bought the business, as this event will set off a chain of events that will most certainly leave those involved with little assets. That too, is really not my problem, but in many ways it is, as I still take care of the personal finances for Bill, and this will put him into a problem state, financially.
Beyond that, why should I care, right? No, that isn't right. I care alot, for many reasons that have nothing to do with personal loss or gain. This honestly is the end of an era. The end of small business flourishing in small towns. This is a true measure of the state of the economy. The car business is...as a rule, a high dollar business. The inventory requires major capital, even in light of the fact that most dealers in this country don't own their inventory, they borrow on every car and truck, just like you and I--as the buyers, do. Even having that, very few can capitalize this type of business...it takes major cash, and major credit. The business is closely governed at the state and federal levels, and still, owning a car dealership is something that many dream of and few can actually do. We all know that sh** rolls downhill, and for years, the American made car manufacturers have been in trouble. Since that time, their own car makers have been squeezing the little guys, hoping to push them out. It has not been cost effective for the corporate conglomerations to have so many small dealers out there...too much competition these days..the big dealers have gotten the breaks, have gotten the deals, have gotten the favors from their car makers for a long, long time. Among many other things, this has contributed to the sad state of many small car dealers in recent years. I watched as business declined over the years, knowing what would eventually be the final deal, the closing of yet another car dealership. Bill and I talked incessantly that there was not going to be a choice one day soon, that there would be certain death of the business, and it wasn't long before our vision began to come true. He opted to sell rather than close, but both of us honestly questioned whether anyone would be adventurous enough to buy, as we both felt that even Ray Charles could have seen the writing on the wall. When the new buyer came in, it didn't take us long to see that he knew little, but boasted that he knew it all, and at some point, you just agree, and let the chips fall where they may. That's what I did, when I opted to leave last March. His big head and ego were nothing that I wanted any part of, and I knew that the fat lady would soon be tuning up, to sing over this particular car dealership. It was not ever what I wanted for my friends there, for Bill, for the small town in which it is located, and not even for the idiot that purchased it. I had hoped that the new blood coming in would have new and innovative ways of doing business, would be able to fine tune the car business, adopting some of the NEW ways of selling cars, but also understanding that keeping the locals on his side was the only way of keeping the doors open. As we can all see, that didn't happen.
At one time, that place kept more than twenty families fed and twenty mortgages paid. Yes, I know that is small number, but when you add that number to all of the other small business's that are now failing, the numbers become staggering. Small towns across this country are dying and that only leads to big problems in the large cities, as folks that live in the small areas have to work, and often relocate. It adds to the number of foreclosures across small town America, and when that happens, it's the end of the American dream. Families face unemployment, being uprooted, huge changes in their lives, all of them being forced by one small business being closed. Watching this happen really does make me sad--for my friends, for the town, for the country, in general. Just watching the six-o'clock news these days, one almost needs to take a tranquilizer..doom gloom, despair, everywhere you turn. And in the scheme of things, this is just a blip on the screen in the big picture. However, it still feels like it's my screen. And I'm sad.