ELY – The economic downturn in Ely due to the coronavirus pandemic is forcing the only automobile dealership in town to shut its doors. After serving the community for over 75 years, Mike …
ELY – The economic downturn in Ely due to the coronavirus pandemic is forcing the only automobile dealership in town to shut its doors. After serving the community for over 75 years, Mike Motors of Minnesota announced this week that they will close its Ely dealership operations later this summer.
Vice president Charlie Hilligoss, of Hibbing, confirmed the report to the Timberjay on Tuesday.
“Basically, the problem is the cost of running a dealership versus the amount of traffic that were able to get,” Hilligoss said. “Along with the uncertainty of everything going forward, it got to a point where we are unable to keep the doors open. We have operated the dealership through many difficult periods, and we have always tried to keep the dealership operating and employees working over many years. Unfortunately, current economic conditions and uncertainty has forced ownership to make the difficult decision to close.”
He could not provide a final date of when Mike Motors will close.
“No formal closing date has been announced, but it is anticipated that the dealership will close near the end of July,” he said. “The store will continue with sales and limited service appointments, in accordance with current government regulations, as the dealership winds down operations.”
“Our goal is to keep everyone employed and keep their health insurance going,” he said. “We’ll be offering (Ely) employees an opportunity to stay with the company. If we have jobs available, they will be the first ones on the list, for sure.”
The Hilligoss family also owns Ranger GM in Hibbing and Grand Rapids GM, and they are partners with Ford of Hibbing. Mike Motors sells and services new Chevrolet, Buick, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and RAM vehicles as well as pre-owned vehicles.
Mike Motors manager Al Nap said Tuesday that Mike Motors currently has 10 full-time employees.
“We are in a wind-down mode, but I don’t know when that is going to be,” he said. “As of the end of this month, we will no longer be a Chrysler dealership, but how long we continue after that, I don’t know.”
Nap was set to meet with Hilligoss on Thursday.
Ely Mayor Chuck Novak responded to the changes in the Ely business scene due to COVID-19.
“This just compounds the issues being caused by the shutdown in the state,” Novak said. “It is frustrating because it is a one-size fits all mentality.”
“We feel horrible having to shut the doors,” Hilligoss said.
The Ely store is owned by Cindy Hilligoss, who took over ownership following the death of her husband Don Hilligoss in August 2017. The Hilligoss family owned the dealership from 1998 through 2004 and then repurchased the dealership in 2009 to keep the business going after the 2008 recession.