Saturday, January 17, 2009

The end of an era

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.

11 comments:

Summer said...

I would feel the same as you. It's sad and it's frightening. What's going to become of us as a country?

abbagirl74 said...

I am very sorry sweetie. It is very sad and scary. I will keep your friends in my thoughts. I hope everything turns out okay for them.

SOUL: said...

wow , that's quite a moving post.
very , i don't know, patriotic? perhaps.
i understand that you're sad, and why.
i do. and i'm sorry your friends have to face what's coming.

who knows though? nobody knows how this story ends yet. it'll be ok.
just watch

i'm not always wrong.

i am awful tired tho, i think i'm goin back to bed.
did you?
ugh-- and my five hour post? didn't get posted. whata disaster.
ox

ac said...

This story (you tell so well) is being repeated in small towns all over the country. It's frightening isn't it? I can only imagine how it must feel to be one of the ones it's happening to. :(

I keep the faith that things will get better...

Golden To Silver Val said...

I understand as well...and agree that its awfully scary. When you work at a place for so many years...it becomes like family. I'm so sorry and feel for all the people involved. The state of our nation is tragic right now but we have to have faith that we can and WILL come back from all this. We have done it before.
Try and see some sunshine through the clouds....go hug somebody and tell them you love em. Big hugs, Charlotte

M Chickk said...

I understand how you feel. We have something similar going on with one of Hubby's customers. The poor guy got screwed big time by the guy who was buying the business. This guy spent his whole life building this business, which was still successful and the guy who took over ran it into the ground in about a year. He is trying to get the business back legally but it looks like he will get nothing. He never even got the money from the sale of the business and his credit was ruined because it was all still in his name. Its very sad and seems very unfair. Hubby lost one of his bigger accounts. The employees who worked there for years are now out of a job. Everyone feels the pinch. Its scary. I know, we have been in that position too, twice. I hate seeing it happen to anyone because I know what its like.

fiwa said...

I also think, that because you are the kind of person you are, that a job would never be just a job to you. You put your heart and soul into what you do, you own it. A lot of people are content to just do what they have to do to make a paycheck and go home, but that isn't you. It's one of the things that makes you such an awesome person.

I'm so sorry for your friends who will be starting over, and I wishing them, and you, and me, all the best of luck in moving on.

love you,
fiwa

desert dirt diva said...

you have a big heart!

Cheryl said...

It's a sad story, and devastating for so many people in so many ways. How could you not care?

Times are going to get worse. It's a reality. I truly believe that with time, they'll get much better. We all have a lot of sacrifice ahead of us. I have faith in the new president to set things right again.

Mary said...

Others have said the things that are on my mind and in my heart. And said it much better than I could have. The future has lost it's glow for small business owners and grass root families. Our "American Way" of life is on the brink. We will survive but changes and sacrifice won't be easy.

Amanda said...

I would have been more surprised if you weren't sad and touched by this. You are not one of these "emotionally uninvolved" persons, and that's great.

The rebuilding of a great country needs people just like you.