Small town dealerships hurting

December 5, 2008 5:46:28 PM PST
With the future of the nation's auto industry possibly on the line, it's anyone's guess what effect a decision will have on the economy.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

And we're not just talking big cities like Houston, but also small towns that depend on dealerships.

From sponsoring the local parade to the county fair, the smaller the town, the bigger the footprint of a local dealership. That's certainly the case throughout the state

We traveled to the tiny town of Industry outside of Belleview to see how one long time dealership is weathering the downturn.

The repair shop is still buzzing at Tegeler Chevy, but there's not much action in the small showroom.

We asked how many new cars the dealership had sold in the last month.

"Oh, I was afraid you might ask," said dealership owner Larry Tegeler. "We're down to about three last month."

Business is down 25% but Tegeler remains undaunted. After all, the dealership has been in business in the same spot since 1931.

"In '31 I think they sold one new vehicle that year, so it's seen worse times, but it's getting close," he recalled.

For years, trucks were the bread and butter. Once gas prices started going up these sales went down, now nothing is moving.

"Sales have been pretty tough, I think everybody has been holding back and trying to save their money and seeing what's going to happen," said long time employee Gayle Krebs.

Long time employees are a bit worried, but Tegeler remains optimistic. He's still sponsoring county fairs, local parades and just about anything else this town of 304 asks for. But even some of his most loyal customers aren't buying now, hoping instead that the dealership survives until they need another car.

"Keep our fingers crossed that by the time we need to buy one the economy will be better," said Ken Vasina.

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