The parking lot of the Reynoldsburg Motor Car Co. at 8520 E. Main St. is empty now and gates are up to keep people off the lot.

A large sign, however, reminds passersby that the owner of the once-thriving business appreciated his customers. It states, "Thank you for 25 great years."

They were very good years, said owner Terry Carpenter, who recently sold the lot and building.

The car dealership first opened in late 1993.

"We grew leaps and bounds from that first year," he said. "At one time, I had two stores but sold the second one in 2007. We usually sold about 300 to 350 cars a year."

He said it was a difficult decision to close the dealership.

"I had such mixed emotions over that whole deal," he said.

Carpenter said he sold the business to a company that will put a gasoline station and large convenience store on the property, but he wouldn't identify the company or the reveal the sale price.

"I can't comment on how much it sold for. It has a confidential contract," he said. "The closing will be sometime this summer."

He said he will miss his customers in Reynoldsburg, but he is keeping his hand in "the car business."

"I've been in the car business since 1984, so making customers happy is a big priority," Carpenter said.

The dealership won the 2009 Quality Dealer of the Year award from the state of Ohio.

"You can only win the award once, and that was a tribute to having a great staff," he said. "It is not about how many cars you sell, but how you do business."

Carpenter said he would continue to take care of his customers, even if it is long-distance assistance.

"I will be helping people find cars through carguysusa, based in North Carolina," he said.

Anyone who needs help finding a car still could contact him at terry@reynoldsburgmotorcar.com. He still will have his license to sell cars.

"For example, if people are looking for a specific vehicle, I could find it for them," he said. "I have a new car brokerage available, where I can get cars out of Florida and have them delivered."

With a home in Reynoldsburg, another in Florida and a small condo in the mountains of North Carolina, Carpenter said, he finally would have a little more time to relax.

"I will be keeping my hand in the car business but will not be doing it seven days a week any more," he said.

"I will miss Reynoldsburg, though," he said. "It's where my son played Reynoldsburg youth football. I will really miss the people."

Reynoldsburg Development Director Dan Havener said the car dealership is not actually within city limits, but is in Etna Township.

"Depending on what goes in there, though, chances are they will have to ask to annex the property into the city in order to get the necessary infrastructure and utilities to the site," he said.

He said most properties in that area are on septic systems; codes and requirements have changed a lot since the dealership opened in 1993, Havener said.

"No one has approached the city so far about the property," he said.

pwillis@thisweeknews.com

@PamelaThisWeek