Press "Enter" to skip to content

Lamar without a new car dealer for the first time in over 100 years

With the shutdown of the local Chevrolet dealership at the end of September, Barnesville is without a new car dealership for the first time in at least 100 years. It is known that J.W. Carreker was a Buick dealer here in Oct. 1919. Horseless carriages caught on early locally as Buggy manufacturers and their employees saw the handwriting on the wall and knew combustion engines would eventually kill their horse-drawn industry. In the early days, merchants could acquire two or three cars and be labeled a ‘˜dealer’. Ben Moore was the last surviving local new car dealer before selling out some years ago. He joined his father B.F. Moore in the family business after graduating from Georgia Tech. Before building the location on the four-lane, the elder Moore operated his dealership on Zebulon Street downtown. That dealership was actually begun by Lewis Tyus. Ben Moore doubts a new car dealer will locate here at any time in the near future. ‘It is all about the attitude of the dealer. And that hasn’t been here for the last 10 years or so. It left a negative attitude among the public. With the way automakers do market analysis now, I don’t know if Barnesville could make the cut for a new dealership,’ Moore said. However, he feels the time is right for someone to get into the business of selling certified used cars locally. ’That’s what I was going to do until my health failed me. The right person with the right attitude and the right bank account could make a lot of money. It can’t be a part time person. You have to be there every day. People always asked me where I was going on vacation. Hell, I never had a vacation,’ Moore said. Former mayor Jimmy Matthews recalls that J.R. Smith Motor Company, a Ford dealership, operated next door to Moore’s original site downtown. Davis-Cooper Ford was founded by Dean Davis and the late Jimmy Cooper who bought out Smith and built a building on the bypass. ‘˜The Ford place’, as it was known, closed 10 years ago. Ban-Lar Pontiac operated on the site where Hines Prescription Shop now stands. It began as Banks Pontiac and was owned by Pop Banks, father of current mayor Peter Banks. ’Pop started up by the railroad tracks. Then he built that odd shaped building at the corner of Zebulon and Greenwood Streets. He later moved over to College Drive,’ mayor Banks reported. The elder Banks also had a John Deere dealership on the same site and sold tractors, Matthews recalled. Lamar Poore eventually bought a share in the business and it became Ban-Lar Pontiac. Poore bought out the elder Banks some years later when Banks decided to retire. Matthews recalls Coulon Chrysler Plymouth being located where Ritz Park is now. Red Fambro had a used car lot there before Coulon ramped up. John Coulon operated the dealership. He and his family lived on Georgia Avenue across from the old Methodist parsonage in a house Gordon now owns, Matthews said. Banks also recalled the Chrysler dealership and said Fambro befriended him when he was a child. ‘Mr. Red and Pop were great friends. Red loved baseball and he took me to many baseball games. He was always smoking a big old cigar,’ Banks said. New car dealers may be a part of local history now but they brought in the cash and created needed jobs for salesmen, clerks and mechanics. The loss of new car sales is a blow to the local economy. ‘They generated a lot of sales tax. That is a big hit,’ Banks said. The question now is whether or not a dealer will come here and fill the void. ’I think Barnesville can support a dealership or two. It always has. The car companies want these dealers to build big new buildings and that’s part of the problem. They pressured Pop to do that 50 years ago but he refused. He was selling so many damn cars, they just finally left him alone,’ the mayor concluded.

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Website by - Copyright 2021