What's Next for Jonesboro's Cavenaugh Lincoln-Mercury Car Dealership?

August 2, 2007 - Posted at 8:30 p.m.  CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- The downtown dealership is a complete loss, but employees at Cavenaugh Lincoln Mercury say they are trying to look at it as only a bump in the road.

"We are just kind of in a holding pattern," said Cavenaugh spokesman Bill Little, "There are rules with the Arkansas Motor Vehicle Commission also with Ford Motor Company itself where we could actually do business. So right now we really don't know, it's a little early, the smoke hasn't even settled yet."

But the smoke was billowing early Thursday as a fire completely destroyed the Cavenaugh Lincoln-Mercury dealership on Huntington Avenue in downtown Jonesboro.  The fire apparently started at approximately 10:40 a.m. in the dealership's shop building, while mechanics and technicians were working on a car.

"We had plans to move this dealership in the next 90 days, actually in the next couple of weeks to a location that we can't say at this time.  We were planning on moving the dealership, our inventory reflected that a little bit," said Little.

Eight customer vehicles were destroyed, plus two in a showroom and a couple outside that couldn't be moved fast enough.

"Metal and scrap iron and all of that can be replaced but we are just happy no one was hurt.  Our employees here, all 20 of them, did a great job and it's going to be a challenge for them," said Little.

Employees who worked at the Huntington location will still have jobs at other Cavenaugh dealerships in town.

"We were fortunate along those ways that a lot of the vehicles were a ways from the store and it happened so fast it was all we could do to get everyone out of the building and all the keys to the vehicles were left inside," said Little.

And as the cleanup continues...plans begin for a temporary dealership.

"We're hoping to get this place set back up quickly and open at a new location until we get to the other new location," said Little.

Cavanaugh employees spent the day moving undamaged cars from downtown to what's called a bull pen, or a holding lot, at their Kia store on Stadium.  The Mercury-Lincoln dealership housed more than 30 new and used automobiles.