For the first time in almost 40 years, Jane Bloxham will have a nice, open schedule on Sept. 15.
That's because the longtime co-owner of Royce Motor Co. will close her Mono Vista area business for good the day before, after 38 years.
"I've just worked all my life, and now it's time to let it go," she said on Monday.
Bloxham and her daughter, Heidi Holmes, have been running the auto shop specializing in Subarus since about two years ago, when Bloxham's husband, Bill, passed away. Before that, the Bloxhams ran Royce Motor - named after Bill's middle name - dating back to the 1970s when they opened it as a Subaru dealership.
Since then, the business has taken on a few changes, selling used cars, rentals and eventually focusing mainly on repairs. Jane and Bill handled the business together, with Jane running the books and offering the smiles. Throughout the years, the business has stayed small and family-owned, with mechanic Gary Mier working as their sole employee most of the time.
"There's so much that it takes to run a business, even with just one employee," said Holmes, who also co-owns an auto upholstery business in Angels Camp. "It's just time to get out, and know when to say when. We're leaving at the top instead of at the bottom."
Bloxham and Holmes say the decision is more about timing than business. They've maintained a customer base dating back to the early dealership years, having sold many of the cars they still service.
But while both Holmes and her brother, Huntley, have been willing to help keep the place running, Jane Bloxham said she's ready to retire.
While it would have been ideal for another owner or manager to come in and continue, they said that was unlikely.
They are looking for a tenant in the property, which they still plan to own and which includes Bloxham's apartment. They're also looking for a buyer of a classic Rolls Royce at the shop.
So what will be on the schedule for Bloxham after the Sept. 14 closing date?
"Traveling," she said with a smile, also noting she could do some local volunteering.
But walking away isn't easy, even if it's on top. Both Holmes and Bloxham said they'll miss the customer interaction the most.
Over the years, Royce Motor felt as much like a family as it did a business.
"I will miss the people. They would come in, and we'd sit down and chit chat for an hour or two. Sometimes even longer," Bloxham said.
Contact Chris Caskey at email@example.com or 588-4527.