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Car dealership to close after 88 years

Lincoln of Albany, located at Broad Avenue and Davis Street since 1967, will soon be closing its doors, ending the company’s 88-year history of selling automobiles in downtown Albany. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

Lincoln of Albany, located at Broad Avenue and Davis Street since 1967, will soon be closing its doors, ending the company’s 88-year history of selling automobiles in downtown Albany. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

ALBANY — A downtown Albany fixture for nearly 88 years, Lincoln of Albany will soon be closing its doors after agreeing in principle to sell its Lincoln franchise to Sunbelt Ford.

According to Lincoln of Albany Dealer Principal J. Banks Haley, the family-owned business recently approached Sunbelt about the purchase after experiencing a significant decline in sales over the past few years.

Haley, who took over day-to-day operations of the dealership in 2010, pointed to changes in the auto industry as the primary cause of the dealership’s struggles; more specifically, Ford’s discontinuation in the Mercury line at the end of 2010.

Mercury, which Ford began producing in 1939 as an upscale alternative to the Ford brand that was less expensive than Lincoln, accounted for the bulk of Lincoln of Albany’s sales.

“That was 50 percent of our business,” said Haley. “At the time I didn’t know how devastating the loss of Mercury would be.”

Haley said that the dealership likely stayed afloat the past few years due to customer loyalty that had been generated through its long history in Albany.

“As long as I’ve known the business it’s really been a customer driven company,” Haley said. “Our customers have always been our top priority.”

Lincoln of Albany is the last remnant of the Haley Motor Co., which first began selling Ford and Ford tractors in 1925 at Pine Avenue and Jackson Street, the current the location of Dougherty County Central Library.

As that company expanded and began carrying the Lincoln and Mercury brands, the current location at 632 W. Broad Ave. was opened in 1967.

Once the sale is completed, Sunbelt will begin carrying and servicing Lincoln vehicles at the company’s Ford Town location on North Slappey Boulevard. Haley has not announced future plans for the car lot and showroom on Broad, other than to say the property will remain with the Haley family.

When contacted about the sale, representatives from Sunbelt declined to comment until the deal has been completed. Both parties predict that the sale will be finalized within the next two weeks.