For 30 years, Frank Shoop has been a car dealer fixture in Georgetown.
This month, it changes hands as Dan Cummins buys the dealership ending an era.
“Josh (Cummins) had expressed an interest in buying it seven-eight months ago. He said if I was interested in selling, he’d like to talk to us,” said Langdon Shoop, Frank’s son and who has been handling a lot of the day-to-day operations for the last few years. “At the time we really weren’t interested. We had a GM store in Hazard we did sell. Josh put a bug in my ear and I was like I don’t think so.”
That changed though when Frank had a little health issue.
“There was a rumor somebody had bought us, but I hadn’t talked to anybody,” Shoop said. “He called me up, and it was a five-minute conversation and had it handled.
“I’m ready to do something else, but this is bittersweet. This was dad’s life. He became a Chevy dealer in 1972. The only dealers in operation today before he got in are Paul Miller and Jack Kain. He still comes in and talks to customers three-four days a week.”
Georgetown was a logical place for Cummins, located in Paris, to expand. Brothers Josh and Dusty Cummins run the growing dealership that their grandfather started in 1956.
“The Georgetown community has always been such a great place for business with great people. We employ a lot of people at our dealership that live in Georgetown,” Josh Cummins said. “We have a lot of customers who have been coming here from Georgetown. The other attractive thing is that it is a family business like ours.”
Shoop has been selling Chevy, Buick, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram. The dealership started when they bought out Prather Motors downtown that had been there since the 1920s. Oldsmobile was added from Bevin Motors.
They have seen a lot of changes over the years. Oldsmobile went away, and Pontiac went away in 2008 when General Motors went through bankruptcy.
And the way cars are sold has changed drastically in the past few years.
“We used to have tire-kickers. Now we have tire-clickers,” Shoop said. “This is your showroom (gesturing at the computer). Fifteen years ago, no one would have thought about buying shoes without trying them on. Then came Zappos. People used to not think about buying a car without driving it. It happens all the time now. The computer and the phone is where you sell cars.”
Over 30 years, the Shoops have weathered some pretty tough times in the auto business.
“It’s never fun when the franchises you have, GM and Chrysler, go bankrupt within a month of each other. Our business was cut in half in no time,” Shoop said. “The economy had started turning in the fall of 2008 anyway. When the banks dried up, people wanted to buy cars but there was no money being loaned.
“And anytime there was a strike was tough. There was a long strike in 1998 and we didn’t get any new cars for a summer. That was not fun, and that is usually our peak time.”
9/11 was also tough because people were staying home, Langdon said, but added GM took the lead with 0% financing to “get America growing again and the economy going.”
Cummins and his family are excited to be in Georgetown, he said.
“We want the store to grow and looking forward to serving the people of a growing Georgetown,” he said. “We look forward to getting involved in the community.”
Shoop has high hopes that Cummins will continue to be a success.
“Cummins has really figured out the digital market and how to sell well there,” he said. “Everyone who is working here now will have the chance to stay.”
And after 30 years, the Shoop dealership will end.
“It’s been a credit to my family, our staff and friends. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to be part of this city as it has grown,” Shoop said.
“It’s been exciting to be part of that.”