Thursday, July 25, 2013

Built Chevy Tough, No More

An American icon

About 75 people showed up this morning to attend the Classic Chevy, aka Paige's Chevrolet auction at their historic 40 Dickinson Street location, within hubcap toss of the Dickinson Homestead.

Almost all of them were men dressed in work clothes, similar no doubt to the uniforms once worn by the 17 dedicated employees who are now out of a job.

Crowd gathers round the auctioneer at former Classic Chevrolet

Amherst has lost its last auto dealership and it's unlikely to see another one anytime soon.  Just as a supermarket or hardware store will never reappear in the downtown.

Or a phone booth.

Flying Super Extra Gas pump 1960s:  When Paige's was in its prime

Parts of the Trade

How to for professionals (before the Internet)

Hills Hat Factory molds, circa 1850s stored in the attic


Anonymous said...

I Amos bummed, I loved this place; the people and competence were peerless, Eric Scott and his associate Paul were just the best. It would be great if a splinter group of them started a biz...

John Edwards

Anonymous said...

Their not making hats either. We haven't missed them. Times change.

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah,but people don't. CAN.

Walter Graff said...

They'll all go to other dealerships and bring their great service and attitude. Nothing is lost. People act as if the closing of a dealership means people will be homeless. This dealership was tiny and couldn't compete. It's associates have plenty of other dealerships to work at. It's a different world in the auto industry and Amherst wasn't a place to buy a car.

Anonymous said...

It's not their fault. They're trying t sell Chevrolets. Talk about a losing prospect!

Anonymous said...

Consumer Reports just named the Chevy Impala the top large sedan in the United States, beating out the Toyota Avalon. Chevys are not necessarily a bad car.

Anonymous said...

Who buys large sedans anymore?

Anonymous said...

Ah, my old chevy nova from years gone by. Bought a used one with 10,000 miles on it for $6000.00. It lasted 10 full years and then some before I had to do any repairs. And even then, the repairs were minor ones. I'd trade in just about anything for one of those.

Tom Paige said...

My brother Steve and I thank you for your coverage of the closing of Classic Chverolet, and your tribute to the employees and long-time customers of the Dickinson St. dealership. Even as it's name changed over the years: Gibson Chevrolet (1946-1972) Paige's Chevrolet (1972-2002) and Classic Chevrolet (2002-2013), the dealership never wavered in its commitment to supporting the community, even when times were tough.

Some history: Amherst has had a Chevrolet dealership continuously since 1927 (other than the WW2 years when auto manufacturing was suspended) - my grandfather and great grandfather operated Paige's Garage downtown (behind the present Ren's Mobil) from 1927 - 1942, and my father, Harlan, fresh out of the Navy and 3 years at sea in the Pacific theater, was the first employee of Gibson Chevrolet when it started up after the war. He took over the business as owner in 1972 and was well known in for his community involvement until his untimely passing in 1984. We never got rich, but we made a living at it. My brother Steve and I continued to operate Paige's for another 18 years until 2002 when we sold the busimess to the owners of Central Chevrolet (W. Springfield) after finding we could no longer go it alone. I stayed on another 6 years with them until I went to work at the University five years ago. I grew up around the business and felt fortunate to be involved in a family business in the 30 years that I was there. So many memories! Our longtime advertising slogan was "Carrying on a tradition", and our staff and many of our customers felt pride that they were a part of that tradition.

The loss of a local business hurts a community when that business has contributed consistently to community efforts, sponsoring little league baseball and youth hockey teams, driver's ed programs, along with countless school and local charitable and civic groups over a span of many years.

It's true that businesses come and go, but long time businesses represent a stitch in the fabric of the community, especially when that business, and its employees have found their way into the hearts many of thier customers.

I'm thankful for the lifelong friendships I've formed with so many of my former customers and employees (you know who you are!) - and miss seeing them on a regular basis. I'm heartbroken that the dealership, along with so many smaller, community based businesses, has been forced to close, and sadder still for the loss to the community and the breakup of a great team of employees.

As a point of reference, Chevrolet remains the #2 selling brand lineup in the US market, with innovative products like the Volt plug-in hybrid, and the outstanding Duramax diesel truck lineup. And, yes, the new Impala just recieved the top rating from a well known Consumer organization that counts 12 Chevrolet models on its "Recommended" list.

The Paige family was involved in serving the transportation needs of the Amherst area for over 100 years beginning with Paige's Livery Stable in 1882 - check out the old Amherst College student song "Paige's Horse":

(Apparently student revelry is not a new phenomenon!)

So - thank you again for your coverage and thank you Amherst for loyally supporting such a small dealership long, long after many similar family owned 'garages' went by the boards. That in itself is a tribute to the staff and the loyalty of so many customers.

We were lucky to be a part of it -may the good memories endure.

Tom Paige

Larry Kelley said...

Hey Tom,

Thanks for that fascinating history.

As you may know, I grew up on High Street just a couple streets down from Dickinson.

But the previous four generations of the Kelley family were at "Kelley Square", contiguous with the Dickinson Street dealership and the old Train Station.

My dad and his brother also served in the Pacific theater during WW2.

While I ran a small business in town for a mere 28 years, it seems like it was a lifetime.

People never seem to truly appreciate something until it's gone.

At least now Google will remember (and they should last almost as long as the Dickinson Street dealership).