Waukesha Co. car dealership closes after nearly 90 years

CREATED Feb. 13, 2013

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MUSKEGO - A well-known Waukesha County car dealership closes suddenly after nearly 90 years in business.

Salentine Buick has been a fixture in Muskego for decades, but Tuesday it closed its doors with little notice or explanation.

Cars with sale tags still line the street in front of Salentine's Buick.

But on the door - a simple note reads "Salentine Buick will be closed as of 2/12/13. Sorry. Thank you." 

Residents are simply stunned and left wondering why.

"Completely shocked. This is a business that has been very supportive of our community, has been for years," said Carla Regini.

Just three-and-a-half years ago, the family-owned dealership fought General Motors to stay in business when it pulled their franchise.

"We are not closing. We will stay here to support the community as we always have," of the family owners, Sue Salentine said in a 2009 interview with TODAY'S TMJ4.

The community rallied and wrote letters to congressmen.

It worked.

"I thought business was good and things were going fine," explained Julie Frahmann.

She personally knows the impact Salentine made in the community.

The dealership offered its cafeteria to house the local food pantry she started.

"They were very good to us our first year-and-a-half we were open. We wouldn't be here if it weren't for them," said Frahmann.

No one at the dealership would answer our questions Tuesday.

One of the family owners told the Journal Sentinel that financially, it was no longer possible to go on, and that being a stand alone Buick dealership had taken its toll.

"It's a huge loss for the community," said Regini.

There's no word on what will be done with the remaining cars on the lot or how many people are now without a job.

Back in 2009, the dealership employed at least 60.