Car Dealers Reeling From Forced Closures

Greg Signore, who owns Elm Dodge in Kearny, N.J., says he feels backed into a corner. And he's angry.

"We're the road kill in all of this," Signore said.

He's one of nearly 800 Chrysler dealers nationwide given notice they will be closed. On top of that bad news, Chrysler ordered Signore to clear out his show room by June 9, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.

"After 60 years, they don't give me the decency to have a longer period of time to get rid of my inventory," Signore said.

So, he's slashing prices on all new cars. Take this 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan. It retails at just above $33,000, slightly more than what he paid for it. To get it off the lot, he'll take $25,000.

"You will lose?" Miller asked.

"I will lose $7,000 on the car," Signore said.

Today, sensing blood, some customers were pushing for even more.

But for Chrysler dealers like this one, this weekend is more than just a gimmick or a three-day fire sale. It's about moving cars or possibly going bankrupt.

Signore has 20 cars to sell, an investment of nearly half a million dollars. Over the last year, he's averaged five sales a month. Since getting the "notice to close" last week, he's sold two cars.

"I'm angry," Signore said. "This is my asset - they're stealing it away from me."

Signore said he wouldn't have this many cars if he hadn't given in to Chrysler's pleas to buy more cars than usual as it struggled to save itself.

"You had to take more cars to qualify for incentives," Signore said.

Chrysler has offered to help shuttered franchises with their inventories, but half the dealers are going to court on June 3 to halt the forced sell-off.

"This is my retirement ripped right out of my hands," Signore said.

But that's unlikely to save Signore's six-decade old dealership, a legacy passed to him from his father. He'll now have to depend on used car sales to stay open.

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.