A nearly 100-year-old Sidney-area business will be shutting down Dec. 13, according to its owner.
Eleven weeks after a fire destroyed his Main Street parts and service building, Glen E. "Whit" Whitaker has decided it's time to cease operations.
Since the blaze, sales at Whitaker and Son, which is a franchised Buick and Chevrolet dealer, have continued at a separate Main Street location, and other services have been moved to a temporary River Street location.
But Whitaker, who is 57, said Friday that after dealing with the 2006 flood, which caused damage at both sites, and the Aug. 30 fire, "there is no way I can start all over again."
Whitaker said all warranties will be honored until the business closes. After that, any authorized General Motors dealer will perform covered work.
The business has been located in Sidney since 1920. When it was started in Unadilla in 1910, Whit's great-grandfather George Whitaker sold horse-and-buggies.
There are 13 employees in the operation, he said. The loyalty of the staff over the years has made the decision that much more difficult, Whitaker said.
"It was brutal," he said. "It was really hard."
Everyone has worked well at the temporary site, but that facility was never meant to be permanent, he said.
An employee reached for comment said the decision seemed inevitable after the fire.
"I'm not surprised, with what he has gone through," said service manager Patrick Jayne, who has been with Whitaker's for 15 years. "Everybody anticipated it. It didn't come as a huge shock."
He said he will stay and help close the business, and then he will look for a new job.
"It will be tough with the holidays coming," but he understood why Whitaker took the step now.
The pending contract with Rite Aid to buy the sales building did not factor into the decision, Whitaker said. The national chain is attempting to purchase a group of stores on the block to build a drug store. It still has to work out details with the village about purchase of its municipal lot before the deal can proceed.
Andrew Matviak, a Sidney businessman and member of the Sidney chamber and village board of trustees, said "it will be a big loss."
Whitaker has done a lot for the community over the years, Matviak said. "It's always sad to see someone like that go."
Sidney Mayor Jim Warren said, "He will be sadly missed. The family has played a role throughout the years in the growth and development of the village."
For now, Whitaker said, he is focused on closing the business.
When that is over, he said, "We will get our heads together and see what the future holds."