By Thomas Garcia: QC Sun writer
Hamilton Big Country Ford in Tucumcari closed its doors Friday morning after 12 years of servicing Quay County, according to the manager.
“The word came in at 9 a.m. that we were closing,” said Larry Birch, a manager and salesperson alone at the office Friday night waiting for drivers to remove the last six cars from the lot.
Birch said sales over the past few years have been dwindling with the economy.
“It is just not cost effective to keep the doors open,” Birch said “The economy in Tucumcari has suffered and they can’t justify keeping $1.5 million in inventory on the lot.”
Owner Gary Hamilton could not be reached for comment.
Birch said he had renewed the business license Wednesday and recently had the building inspected by the fire marshal to bring it up to code.
“We were all ready to go, just needed some exit signs put up,” Birch said. “Then come Friday morning it’s all over.”
Birch said employees were offered positions at Hamilton dealerships in Clovis, Portales and Muleshoe. Hamilton owns nine dealerships in New Mexico and Texas.
“They offered me a job, but it’s not for me,” Birch said.
Birch, 67, said he has sold cars for 20 years, a dozen of those years with Hamilton.
“I sold a car to a couple and years later sold one to their kid,” Birch said, laughing.
Birch said he will remain at the lot for a few days if anyone has any questions or concerns about a purchase.
“I am not going to leave anyone high and dry,” Birch said. “We are not abandoning a sinking ship. People can call me for a few days, then they can contact Clovis’ office if they have any questions.”
Birch said the hard part will be getting up at 5 a.m. for coffee and not having the lot to come too.
“I have torn up many … shoes walking this lot,” Birch said. “It’s going to be different when those lights come on to an empty lot. It’s going to be different not being on this lot.”