the Great Fire of 1964 burned down the building, my father rebuilt
his dealership. Here he is in his brand-new office in 1965, the
desk not yet cluttered.
father would start an index card for each new vehicle received from
the factory. The first Chevrolet of a model year became
inventory #1, and the first Oldsmobile was #01. Each year,
these inventory numbers grew into the hundreds.
the card, he would write how much he had paid General Motors for the
vehicle and how much money he received from the eventual buyer.
Contrary to what you might think, the second amount was often lower
than the first, because the buyer would give us not only money but
also his old car. That trade-in became inventory #1A, and it
went on the books for an inventory amount approximating what its
trade-in value had been.
the used cars were listed on a single typed sheet of paper,
including their inventory number (#1A), their inventory amount
(1200), and their description (1962 Olds 98 white 4-door). A
prospective customer would ask my father or one of his two salesmen,
"How much do you want for that 98 back there?" A
glance at the typed list would tell the salesman he had to get more
than $1,200 if he wanted the dealership to make a profit.
each used car was sold, a line was drawn through it on this typed
sheet. As additional used cars were added to the inventory,
they were written in at the bottom. After a week or so, the
sheet started looking messy, and it was sometimes my job to retype it.
#1A was sold, the amount received would be recorded on my father's
index card. Perhaps the used-car buyer would trade in an even
older model, which became #1B. Not until the last trade-in had
been liquidated was the story complete. The sales staff added
up all the proceeds from the various sales and compared them to the
factory invoice amount for #1 to determine whether they had made a
profit on the entire deal.