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Sixty years on, it’s still a family affair

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Robert B. Gibson Auto Sales Inc. has been a fixture on Fourth Street NW for almost 60 years.

It was a place where some of the colorful aspects surrounding auto dealers occurred.

“We had a lot of fun things going on,” Sherry Pennington, Gibson’s daughter who now runs the operation.

“Glen Campbell sang here” because he spent a lot of time in New Mexico, she said.

Then Pennington pulled out an old black-and-white photo depicting a bear in a cage.

“He used to invite people to wrestle a bear,” she said. “I don’t know where they got the bear.”

The dealership first opened up in 1944 when World War II was still the predominant focus and that made car buying a challenge, Pennington said.

“Because cars were so scarce you had to have a trade-in to buy a car,” she said. “It was the only way to keep stock up.”

Nowadays, of course, the dealership takes pride in serving anybody, although trade-ins remain one of the bets ways to keep the lot full, said her son, business manager Thomas Pennington II.

“We’re always looking for the best deal we can for the money,” he said.

The family all learned the business from Gibson, who remained active in the dealership well into his later years.

“When he first started, he did everything,” Sherry Pennington said. “He was the salesman and he would fix the cars and clean them up.”

It was a family affair in the old days, with his brother and uncle heavily involved, and it remains so to this day as her nephew Kevin Gibson also is part of the dealership as the service manager.

“All the kids worked here at one time or another,” he said. “They would work for awhile then move on to other things.”

That family connection, however, is what Sherry Pennington said she thinks is so important about the business.

“My dad said you always have to take care of customers first,” she said. “And that’s something we still believe in, taking care of the customers. That’s reason why we’re here. We’ve sold cars to generations of people. We have people come in all the time and say, ‘I remember coming here when I was little and my parents buying a car.’ “