D.D. Gross Motor Sales: 1940s Postwar Business

Click here to read Part 3.

With World War II ending in late 1945, life in Moline began returning to normal. 

D. D. Gross Motor Sales managed to stay in business through wartime. During 1946, the business began seeing growth once again. On December 26, 1946, Dan ran an advertisement in the Perrysburg Messenger which read, “We have reached another milestone on the long road of service. Our organization, sturdier than ever before, is well equipped to give you service that is superior down to the last detail. We thank you for the part you have played in our success and wish you a Happy New Year”.

By late 1945, Packard resumed manufacturing civilian automobiles. The 1946 Packard models produced were basically the 1942 models with modest updates. Even with Packard production resuming in 1946, it may have been some time before Dan’s business received any new models for sale. In archival research, no automobile advertising for D. D. Gross was found for the year of 1946. One of the first post war advertisements for D. D. Gross was actually found from the 1947 Wood County Business Directory. This advertisement also indicated the sale of appliances and radios.

Image provided by Scott Gross.

After the war, the manufacture of domestic products slowly resumed and these products came available for retail sales. Small items, like household appliances came first. The dealership relied on the sale of appliances to supplement sales volume. They sold household goods like stoves, refrigerators, washing machines, freezers, vacuum sweeper and a large assortment of small appliances. They sold entertainment items, including radios, record players and televisions. They even sold yard equipment like lawnmowers and garden tillers, hoes, rakes and garden hoses.

In order to accommodate the sale of these products, Dan had to convert part of the showroom into an appliance store. An article ran in the Perrysburg Messenger on December 4, 1947 announced the remodeled showroom.

D. D. Gross Electrical Store Complete Alterations

Work is about to complete on the remodeling and redecorating at the D.D. Gross Electrical Appliance Store in Moline, Ohio. Former customers and friends are invited to call anytime to see the enlarged salesroom and inspect the large stock of new electrical appliances which homes have been waiting so long to get.

Here you will find many famous name appliances, both large and small, just in time for holiday buying. For more details, see the page display ad on page 8 of this issue.

Perrysburg Messenger – December 4, 1947

Starting in 1947, a large volume of advertisements ran in the Perrysburg Messenger.

There was a large variety, including ads for appliances, housewares, sporting goods, paint, vacuum sweepers, radios and yard tools. An example from this period includes a washing machine ad which ran on May 20, 1948.

In 1948, D. D. Gross was one of the first businesses in the area that sold televisions, offering RCA televisions to their customers. Keep in mind, in 1948, there was only one television station in Toledo. The earliest example of a television advertisement ran on July 22, 1948. Many people remembered when televisions first came to the dealership.

Images provided by Scott Gross.

D. D. Gross was the first business in the area that sold televisions. They began selling televisions in 1948. I can remember that Dan had a television set up in the front window of the showroom. He would leave it on at night.      People would come and stand outside the store at night, so they could watch television.

Clif Falls

In the late 1940’s, I was an assistant scoutmaster for the Boy Scout troop. I can remember going up to the garage after Boy Scouts was over. Chuck Gross would still be at the garage, watching TV. He would let us in so that we would watch too. It seemed like we always watched wrestling.

Robert Waggoner

Sale of these items filled a void in the community since this was a time before malls and large department stores. Having a local business to buy these products was convenient for residents of Moline. The display area for the appliances may have taken up valuable space in the showroom, but was necessary for the business to survive. It’s amazing that a small dealership could sell such a large variety of products in addition to their car sales. The physical size of the building was not that big, but somehow they managed.

As far as new Packard sales, is not known exactly when Packard automobiles became available at the dealership. Archival newspaper research from 1947 revealed only two advertisements in the Perrysburg Messenger.

The first ad was found on April 24, 1947. Image provided by Scott Gross.

However, by 1948, advertising had increased in the Messenger. It appears that automobiles were available at the dealership by this time. On October 16, 1947, an ad introduced the 1948 Packard model (below left). On April 29, 1948 an advertisement even promoted a Packard convertible (below right).

Archival research uncovered an article found in the Perrysburg Messenger which supported the idea that new vehicles were readily available for dealerships in 1948.

The article was published on July 7, 1948 in the Perrysburg Messenger and announced postwar production and shipment records for the month of June 1948. According to the article, June 1948 Packard production was 10,126 units and Packard shipped 10,060 units. At the end of the article, it mentions that D. D. Gross is the local Packard agency. With D. D. Gross mentioned in the article, it is likely Dan was responsible for this release.

Image provided by Scott Gross.

It is clear that D. D. Gross Motor Sales had made adjustments to their business strategy in order to survive and thrive in the post war era. By the end of 1948, the business was on solid footing and looking forward to 1949 – the Packard Golden Anniversary. Click here to read Part 5.

Author

  • Emily Benoit

    Lover of research and writing, libraries and archives. Graduate of Oakland University's MA of English Literature program; and Wayne State University's MLIS program with an additional certification in archival administration.