Reed Brothers’ closing was announced with a formal press release:
Historic Car Dealership Is Closing Its Doors After Nearly A Century In Business
Reed Brothers Automotive (formerly Reed Brothers Dodge), one of the oldest continuously family-owned car dealerships in the nation, is closing its doors at 15955 Frederick Road in Rockville, Maryland for the last time on May 1, 2012.
Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV (1888PressRelease) April 26, 2012 – Reed Brothers was franchised as a Dodge dealership in 1915; only one year after the first Dodge automobile was made. Lewis Reed and his brother Edgar, who joined him in business in 1919, were the first to sell Dodge cars in Montgomery County Maryland. The company continued for two generations later under the Gartner family and has sold tens of thousands of cars to generations of local drivers.
In 1928, when Walter P. Chrysler took over after Horace and John Dodge died, Lewis Reed became an original member of the Chrysler family. By 1929, the year of the stock market crash that began the Great Depression, nobody could afford to buy cars. Like most other businesses, the Great Depression hit hard. Reed Brothers had to rely on its Service Department to make ends meet. But, the dealership survived through these lean times.
Reed Brothers faced another setback during World War II. All U.S. car manufacturers stopped production of cars in order to concentrate on equipment for the military. Reed Brothers had no new cars to sell for three and a half years. When manufacturers halted car production and many dealers went bankrupt, Lewis Reed converted his car showroom into a display room and sold GE washing machines and other large appliances. The first car after the war was the1946 Dodge, which sold for about $800.
Initially, Reed Brothers sold Oldsmobile and Hudson, along with Dodge. Later they became Dodge Plymouth dealers. The first Plymouth was built in 1928 and Plymouth’s were sold at Reed Brothers until 1969, when the Plymouth car was given to the Chrysler dealers.
Reed Brothers Dodge has also operated their own full service Gulf gasoline and service station. In fact, the company was the first Gulf gas dealer in the Washington, D.C. area, selling gas at its original location in Old Rockville at the triangle at Viers Mill Road and Rockville Pike. They carried a full line of Gulf lubricants, Goodyear tires, Willard batteries and many other well known brands of merchandise.
The dealership survived The Great Depression, World War II, the first Chrysler Bailout and resurgence under Lee Iacocca, the sale of Chrysler to Daimler and the sale to the private equity firm Cerberus. Reed Brothers has, in fact, survived everything but Chrysler itself. Whether a franchise is run by a second- or third-generation dealer or is older than even Chrysler itself didn’t seem to matter when Chrysler decided to cut dealership ranks during their 2009 bankruptcy process. After almost 95 years selling Dodges, Reed Brothers was one of the 15 dealerships in Maryland and 789 dealerships nationwide notified by Chrysler that their franchise agreement would not be renewed.
Reed Brothers has occupied two locations, the present one at 15955 Frederick Road, Rockville and the original one that stood at the triangle where Hungerford Drive, Viers Mill Road and Route 28 intersect. In fact, Dodge Street in Rockville got its name because Reed Brothers Dodge was located there for so many years. The original site is now the Francis Scott Key Memorial Park. When the state widened the roads in 1970, the dealership moved to its present location on Route 355 at the Shady Grove Metro.
After three generations and over nine decades of serving Rockville and the Montgomery County area, the owners of Reed Brothers would like to publicly thank the support provided by many generations of loyal customers, their dedicated employees and their families who became dear friends, the surrounding community, schools, organizations and churches they have had the privilege to serve over the years.