Businesses remain resolute in face of closure

Benny Pacheco has worked as a sales agent at Associate Real Estate for about a year, but has worked in Clovis as a car salesman and in real estate for 30 years. (CNJ staff photo: John Eisel)

By Ryn Gargulinski: CNJ staff writer

Real estate agent Benny Pacheco said he already had a woman call to cancel her house purchase — even before the official announcement Cannon Air Force Base is targeted for closure.

“A few other customers called and said, ‘I’m gonna wait,’” said Pacheco, who works at Associates Real Estate on Commerce Way.

“They are probably hoping the price of real estate will go down,” he said, if Cannon were to close.

Not all businesses, however, have felt such a fast and furious response to Friday’s announcement that Cannon was included on the government’s proposed list of bases to be closed.

Some vowed to do what they can to keep Cannon open.

Wes Graham, broker and owner of Re-Max First Place Realtors, said he is working with the New Mexico Realtors Association to help gain statewide recognition of the Cannon cause.

“So far it’s been business as usual,” Graham said, adding he spoke with all the military families under contract on Monday morning and all of them chose to stick it out.

“The market is the same today as it was Thursday before the announcement,” Graham said. “Some that were undecided have decided to stay in ‘wait and see’ mode.”

Limbo will be a common place for area businesses in the next three months, according to Clovis Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ernie Kos.

“It’ll definitely be a time of uncertainty,” Kos said. “But one thing we can be certain about is we’re a strong enough community to work together to get off the list.”

The Chamber has set up a special Web site, Operation Keep Cannon at www.keepcannon.com, to keep local businesses and the community informed on how they can help. Kos said a meeting will be held Wednesday to discuss how area businesses and the Chamber can work together.

Dina Sellers, wife of Bob Sellers of Car-Co on North Prince Street, took the microphone at Monday’s town hall meeting at Clovis-Carver Public Library to impart support.

She announced from the podium: “On behalf of Sellers car company and independent businesses, we would not let Clovis turn into another ghost town.” The ghost town to which she referred was Roswell. She said the 1967 base closing dilapidated their economy.

Other businesses, even those that rely heavily on Cannon for clientele, said they would not leave town even if the base did close.

Dan Toledo, who does engraving and laser work for plaques and nameplates, has been designing work for the base since he opened DAN-T-LZR on West Seventh Street six years ago. Toledo, who retired from the military, said he would miss the huge chunk of business he gets from the base — about half of his clients — but it would not put him out of business. “I would just go online.”

Ruben Cordova, a piercer at Clovis Ink, said roughly 50 to 60 percent of clients who come in for tattoos are military.

“It was an added perk we were near a base,” Cordova said about the shop which has been open for three years and has thrived enough to recently move to a new location on North Prince Street.

“I don’t think it’s right,” Cordova said. “We’re worried about it, but I’m sure we could keep going.”