Area car dealerships forced to close

CHICAGO A lot of dealers say they first noticed trouble about a year ago when car sales started plummeting. Champion Dodge in Barrington is one of hundreds of dealerships nationwide that are going to close this year because of the economy.

"It's just surprising somebody this big could fail this fast," said David Seagren, customer.

Seagren is in the market for a new truck, but he brought his business to the Champion Dodge dealership in Barrington a couple days too late. It closed, as stated in a letter posted on the door. It cites the downturn in the economy and thanks customers for their business. Management would not comment any further, but a mechanic with the service department says employees were told about the closing Monday afternoon.

"Service, we were doing ok, but service doesn't keep the doors open," said Ken Kesseler, mechanic. "Means I go home and try to find a job."

A few miles up the road, Extreme Ford in Crystal Lake is preparing to close next month for the same reason.

"Sorry to say that because of economic conditions we're closing our store," said Carl Myers, Extreme Ford dealership owner.

The owner is shooting a going out of business commercial. He said in the 2 1/2 years since he has owned the dealership, car sales have dropped. He was hoping to weather the storm but decided two months ago to close.

"It's very tough," said Myers. "You work all your life and you want something for your children."

Six nearby dealerships have agreed to take on whatever new cars have not sold by the closing date, but Myers says the used cars have to go.

"I'm afraid this is going to take down a lot of dealerships. They're predicting 700 by year's end nationwide. It's tough out there," Myers said.

The Village of Barrington's economic director says that Champion is the first business to close because of the economy. At one point, there were plans for this business to expand, but that was until about a year ago when car sales first started to drop.

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