A Pendleton used car lot is ready to turn off the ignition next week.
Only five cars remain on the lot at Court St. Motors as owner Richard Peterson prepares to close down shop next week. Most of his inventory was sold during a June 1 auction and he hopes the rest will soon be out of his hands.
Stepping out of his small office, where a dealer plate reading “I got a better deal at Court St. Motors” hangs on the wall, Peterson is blunt about why he’s leaving used car sales behind.
Peterson said he’s approaching 75, has esophageal cancer, and has already received chemotherapy. A surgery to treat the cancer is scheduled for next week in Portland, and a doctor told him he should expect to be waylaid for three months.
Combined with the everyday responsibilities that come with operating a small business, Peterson decided to hang it up.
“The joy of selling cars is gone,” he said.
Peterson’s retirement also ends an eclectic career that’s seen him work at a seed washing plant, an alfalfa farm near the Boardman Bombing Range, and a Pendleton timber mill on land that eventually became Walmart.
Peterson eventually found himself owning and operating his own dry cleaning service at a time when there was enough demand for dry cleaning services in Pendleton that the town had seven stores.
But the demand lessened as time went on and Peterson didn’t have any insurance for his young children, prompting him to switch career tracks again when he took a job installing and maintaining wind turbines.
Peterson said he climbed his last wind turbine when he was 67 and then decided to take over Court St. Motors in 2011 and has run it since.
Although he may no longer have the same passion for selling cars as he once did, Peterson said he’ll miss the customers the most.
Peterson said he didn’t just sell people cars, but also helped them rehabilitate their credit, sometimes financing the deals himself.
He added that a man is interested in buying the lot and running a used car dealership of his own, but there’s nothing in place yet. Even if someone fills in the lot with another set of used cars, the Court St. Motors name will be retired with Peterson.
Contact Antonio Sierra at email@example.com or 541-966-0836.