Its ads promised to "clobber big city prices." Now, the Lawrence Marshall Car Dealerships in Hempstead, has closed its doors.
A salesman told News 3 the closure came as a surprise because the 40 acre complex sold around a thousand vehicles a month. He said owner Ray Childress couldn't secure a new loan, and is now looking for a new buyer.
The dealership is hard to miss, at the intersection of Highway 6 and 290, in Hempstead.
News that the giant business was shutting down, was the talk of the town at the Corner Store, a convenience store, in Hempstead.
"I've lived here all my life and its the only thing here. Its the hugest staple here. There are gonna be so many people who are gonna lose their jobs," said Hempstead resident Nicole Lacy.
"There was a meeting at 3 'o' clock, I was selling a Dodge to a previous customer," said salesman Gerald Lassiter. "They took the keys away from me and said we can't sell it, we're shut down."
The Hempstead chamber of commerce said around 200 people worked at Lawrence Marshall, until Wednesday afternoon.
"I saw lots of crying and tears. I've been here 12 years and we've got employees that have been here 30 to 40 years," said Lassiter.
Now those employees are saying goodbye.
"One guy, he drives all the way from Houston and he shook my hand and he was like this is the last time I'll see you," said Corner Store cashier Rachael Vaden.
Employees said Lawrence Marshall is the latest victim of the credit crunch.
"The only thing I can put together is that Chrysler Credit cut us off," said Lassiter
Its something the College Station resident says he didn't expect, because he said Lawrence Marshall sold more cars this January than it did in January 2008.
"I'm sorry to see it happen but its just the result of the economy and over extension," said Lassiter. "Nobody to bail us out, the federal government, Obama's not coming here."
Lassiter said the service department and body shop at Lawrence Marshall will stay open for the next few days so anyone with a vehicle there, will be able to pick it up.
In 1969, Lawrence Marshall bought the Chevrolet dealership in Hempstead and turned it into the largest truck dealership in the country.
Later, he sold the family business to Aggie football great Ray Childress.
Lawrence Marshall died in June 2008.
According to the dealership's website, it went from selling 25 cars per month in 1969, to over a thousand each month.
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