LARKSVILLE — Continental Car Care is closing its doors after 24 years of business.
Friday was the last day for the full-service repair facility. The shop provided a wide range of auto services, from state inspections to oil changes.
Owner Gary Thorne, 57, said personal health issues were one of the reasons for the store’s closure. Thorne was diagnosed with Multiple Myloma, a form of blood cancer, in 2010. In November 2012, Thorne underwent a bone marrow transplant and is in remission.
Thorn said he still undergoes a maintenance chemotherapy drug, which makes him tired and unable to be at the store every day.
“You just can’t handle the hours anymore,” he said of his treatment. “I’m a hands-on guy.”
The economy also hasn’t done the business any favors. Thorne said the store has been in a constant downturn since the economy crumbled in 2008.
The Car Allowance Rebate System, also known as “cash for clunkers,” hurt business even more in 2009. The program helped consumers buy or lease more environmentally friendly vehicles by trading in their less fuel-efficient vehicles.
“We saw just a constant slowdown in business ever since the economy tanked,” Thorne said.
Thorne opened Continental Car Care in September 1989, but it wasn’t his first business in the automotive repair industry. He owned a transmission shop from 1984 to 1989. He used to have a branch of Continental Car Care in Scranton, but he said he decided to close it to downsize. There are currently three employees in Thorne’s shop, but he said there were 18 when the Scranton location was open.
His customers are sorry to see the auto shop go.
Customers have come in getting last-minute service done, or just to wish Thorne well and to thank the store for their work over the years.
Thorne said one women compared the store’s closure to losing a doctor. Another woman had brought her car to the shop since 1990, and Thorne said she didn’t know where she would take her vehicle.
“Honestly, it’s been a good feeling to know that we were well-liked during this time we were in business,” Thorne said.
Thorne said the building where his business is will be up for sale or lease. He plans to take some time off, which might include a vacation, and then take life day by day.