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Old 09-10-2015, 03:33 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 14,861
Default Did Chrysler's Longest Standing Dealership close earlier this year?

I ran across a headline several weeks ago that caught my attention - the headline indicated "Longest-operating Chrysler dealership closes" but whenever I tried to follow the link and read the story all I got was a brief statement from the newspaper making a correction to the original story.

I contacted the newspaper and one of the editors provided me a copy of the story via email - I'll include the original report in the post that follows.

While I'm not 100% sure that the closure of Brewer Brother's Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram represents the closure of Chrysler's oldest dealership it is still a somber event and furthers my concern that small/rural stores are not necessarily enjoying the success that the larger stores are.
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Old 09-10-2015, 03:36 PM   #2
Join Date: Nov 2007
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Default Brewer Bros. Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep of Canaan, VT closes

Here's the news report I received via email:

Longest-operating Chrysler dealership closes
Selling cars in Canaan since 1912
BY RUTH EPSTEIN Republican-American

Attendance was high at the auction of the former Brewer Brothers car dealership on Railroad Street in Canaan on Saturday. Ruth Epstein Republican-American

Correction: A report about the auction at the former Brewer Brothers car dealership in Canaan that appeared on Page 4B of The Sunday Republican incorrectly identified Bill Hower, the current owner.

CANAAN As the auctioneer's quick delivery filled the air and winning bidders walked off with their items, many in attendance Saturday sensed they were witnessing another blow to Canaan's downtown, which has lost its former robust economy.

Brewer Brothers, a car dealership that stood on Railroad Street since 1912, recently closed its doors and everything in the building was for sale.

"It's a sad, sad day for Canaan," said Denny Jacobs, owner of Jacobs Garage in Falls Village, who brought his wife, Judy, and their son, David. "Anytime a car dealership is lost it is sad. I don't think the people of Canaan realize that this will have a trickle-down effect for other businesses."

He said he drove by the building recently, and seeing it empty and abandoned "brought tears to my eyes."

The longest-operating Chrysler dealership in the country, according to a history of the business, Brewer Brothers was started by Fred and Gilbert Brewer, farmers from Ashley Falls, Mass., in 1911. They opened the automobile repair and sales shop in a barn behind where Mahaiwe Jewelers stands today. The following year, they arranged a land swap with the railroad and acquired the current site where the business remained for 102 years. Their first franchise was REO Motors.

The brothers later opened shops in Pittsfield and North Adams, Mass., and later in Burlington, Vt. The Canaan site secured DeSoto and Plymouth franchises in 1931, which launched their long association with the Chrysler Corp. Eventually, all of the other dealerships closed.

Roy Perkins married Laura Brewer, the brothers' younger sister, and he took over the dealership in 1930. His son, Fred, who was raised in Canaan, began working in the Pittsfield shop in 1956 and later came to Canaan. A year later, he took over the top slot from his father.

In 1971, Brewer Brothers secured a Dodge truck franchise, and later, Dodge cars and Jeeps.

Bill Hower, who owned Jim's Garage across the street, bought the business in 2013. Perkins died earlier this year.

On Saturday, Hower watched as auctioneers from Jacquier Auctions in Southwick, Mass., handled the bidding. Unlike others, who were feeling sad about the demise of a long-standing family business, Hower said he was "ecstatic" to be getting out of the automotive scene. He said he started working at Jim's Garage, owned by his father, when he was 10.

"This will be awesome," Hower said. "There will be someone in this building. Something is coming in. This is an opportunity, not a crisis. Canaan has nowhere to go but up."

Hower said he attempted to sell the business to another Chrysler dealer, but the corporation required a new building. So he's selling and already has moved to Montana, he said.

John Marshall of Canaan has a strong connection to Brewer Brothers, having worked there as a mechanic from 1978 to 1981.

"Business was booming back then," he said.

He and Jacobs both lamented that businesses are having a hard time surviving because of the lack of skilled labor.

Judy Jacobs said successful businesses are often family-owned. They also pointed out that area residents will have to travel to Torrington, Thomaston or Dutchess County in New York to find dealerships.

Marshall was there to look for old parts books, which he collects. Judy Jacobs was checking for office furniture.

Kenny Grzelbien of Southwick, Mass., said he attends auctions looking for nostalgia and he found something.

"See that big red Plymouth sign," he said. "I bought that. I'll redo and rewire it, and put it near my 1970 Plymouth Road Runner. Once this old stuff is gone, there's nothing left."

Contact Ruth Epstein at kcsruthe@aol.com.
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