Credit Crunch Closes Bartlesville Car Dealership

Tuesday, February 24th 2009, 3:32 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

BARTLESVILLE, OK -- The economy in crisis claims a family-owned car dealership in Bartlesville.  After four decades, Russ Rogers Chevrolet will shut its doors on Friday, and 28 people will be out of a job.

Three days before it is set to close, the Chevys are already being loaded up and shipped off at Russ Rogers.  A mainstay in Bartlesville for the past 40 years, the dealership says it is a victim of the credit crunch.

Owner Russ Rogers did not want to go on camera, but in provided a statement that read:  "The recent economic crisis has closed available credit markets to even a credit-worthy business. Our business is totally reliable on available credit to finance the product that we represent. Without it, we cannot exist."

"Right out of high school, my father bought my first car there. It's truly a sad day," said Dustin Peck with Malone Motor.

Dustin Peck is a sales manager at nearby Malone Motor Company.  He says while his dealership is still doing well, and Russ Rogers is a competitor, he takes no joy in news of the closure.  Peck says Bartlesville relies on family-owned dealerships.

"You sell cars to your friends and their friends, your family. 90% of the business we do here at Malone's is repeat and referral," said Dustin Peck with Malone Motor.

"Rusty was one of the first dealers I had on the air," said Kevin Potter with Bartlesville Radio.

Kevin Potter runs four Bartlesville radio stations, and says Rogers is a long-time advertiser and friend.  He believes his city has been lucky enough to avoid many of the economic problems plaguing the country, but the loss a local institution hurts.

You come here, you see the Doenges family, you see Russ Rogers, you see the Oakley family or whatever. You see them cause you know them.  They're friends.  They're family. You see their kids grow up and take over," said Kevin Potter.

The Bartlesville Chamber of Commerce says the city's unemployment rate is still well below the state and national averages.  The Chamber expects another dealership to move onto Russ Rogers' property within the next 60 to 90 days.