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Davis Auto in Ava celebrated their 50th anniversary in March.
The Davis family business started not with cars, but with general merchandise.
However, Dale’s father, Cecil, sold cars even before that time.
Cecil operated an auto parts store starting in 1939, along with selling some used cars on the side, farming and running a milk route.
According to an account from the Summer 2007 journal of the Douglas County Historical and Genealogical Society, Dale said, “Dad always had a car to sell. I remember we were still down on the farm at Whitescreek; he always had three or four lined up in the yard there for sale.”
The auto parts store was still in operation when World War II started, and the war years created a new need for tire repair.
After spending a year in Wyoming providing a tire recapping service in the town of Buffalo,
Cecil returned to Ava and set up a full-service tire, auto service and gas station.
Cecil’s brother, Gene, recalled some interesting ways Cecil pulled in customers in the journal.
“Cecil was always running some kind of commercial deal and one day at Thanksgiving, he bought a whole bunch of turkeys, chickens and ducks, and we got on top of the building and we had an awful crowd, and we threw them off, and they went down the street and people would catch them.”
Cecil later owned a Buick dealership.
In 1960, Dale opened an Army surplus store on the north side of the Ava square.
“There were quite a few Army surplus stores then, with the Korean War just over,” Dale said.
In 1967, the business was changed to Davis Midwest Auto, but the surplus store was kept through the early 1990s.
“We sold lots of guns and ammunition, along with fishing tackle and sporting goods,” Dale said.
When the Davis family started their dealership, there were still Chevrolet and Ford dealerships in Ava.
“Shortly after we got the Chrysler dealership, the Chevrolet dealership went out,” he said.
In 1977, the piece of property where the family’s auto repair business now sits on west
76 Highway was sold at the sheriff’s sale, and Cecil bought it.
Vandals had gotten into the building, so the family completely re-built.
In 1978, Dale’s son Gregory took over the surplus store, which he ran until 1992.
In 1988, the family built their current building on west 76 Highway.
In October of 1991, Davis Auto Sales received the Dodge dealership, and auto repair and auto sales were all at that location until 2000.
Dale later bought Davis Auto Sales’ current location on Highway 5 from his uncle, Gene Davis.
The business was separated in 2009. Dale and Gregory run the sales part, while Jeff Davis runs the service part.
Jeff’s son Drew also works in the service portion.
The business lost their Chrysler/Dodge dealership in 2009 when the corporation eliminated 789 dealers.
“We are still here, and still selling cars,” Dale said.
Reflections is a weekly column exploring the history of Douglas County. Current topics include local festivals, school history and Douglas County residents who have a special talent. If you have an idea for an article, please call 417-683-4181 or e-mail email@example.com