AMHERST — A lawsuit alleging breach of contract and an impending foreclosure on its downtown building that could force one of Amherst’s oldest businesses to close is prompting the creation of an online fundraiser aimed at saving the Ren’s sales and service.
Clients, family and friends of Reynold Gladu, who has operated Ren’s since 1973, organized a GoFundMe appeal this week that seeks to raise $125,000 to cover legal expenses and prevent the possible takeover of the 161 North Pleasant St. site, in the event of payment by the Mortgage not be made in mid-September.
One day after its launch, the fundraiser, at https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-rens-motors-in-amherst-mass, was nearly a quarter of the way toward its goal.
Organized by residents Nancy deProsse, Bob DiCarlo and Lisa Musante, and Gladu’s daughter, Jennifer Gladu-Howe, the call states that the purpose is “to save Ren’s Motors, a small family business whose future rests in the hands of a major supplier gas wholesaler.
Specifically, the need for the money stems from a decision by Reynold Gladu and his son Jeff Gladu to end ties with Mobil and its supplier, Global Corp., due to high gasoline prices in late spring. At that time, Gladus turned to a relationship with Nouria which gives Ren the opportunity to sell Gulf brand gasoline for less.
But the new deal only came after breaking the contract through an escape clause achieved by not selling gas for more than a week, drying out the tanks, and then putting up handwritten cardboard signs saying “out of gas” for a time during the summer. . Ren survived through his gas station, where oil changes and car repairs continued.
Ren’s now faces legal action, with Global contending there was a breach of contract and if it can’t reach a deal, it could see foreclosure and an auction of the property. Global is holding Ren’s estate as collateral for a loan it made to upgrade gasoline pumps in 2007.
Gladu-Howe expanded her appeal in a social media post noting that her 81-year-old father continues to work seven days a week, even after nearly half a century.
“My father is a small business owner who has lived for his work, his clients, and his hometown,” Gladu-Howe wrote. “Now he is being penalized for trying to do the right thing by a large corporation that puts profit before people, and despite his integrity, devotion and the lifelong relationships he has built at Amherst because of who he is As a person, you can lose everything. .”
Those who have donated to the fundraiser express their appreciation for what having Ren has meant to them and to the town.
Adrienne Terrizzi of Pondview Drive said she and her husband, Anthony, didn’t want to sit by and watch one of Amherst’s most valuable businesses go into foreclosure, worried big money interests could take what she calls a city treasure.
“None can beat the longevity of Ren’s service to this city as a consistently locally owned and operated business serving residents, travelers and visitors to city events and tourist attractions alike,” said Terrizzi.
“Ren has been an Amherst institution for decades,” said Ken Rosenthal of Sunset Avenue. “Personal service was once common at most gas stations, but not anymore.”
Strong Street’s Ira Bryck also praised what Ren has meant to Amherst. “Like many people in Amherst, I appreciate how Ren’s gas and service station has been a cornerstone of our downtown, and Ren has been a friendly and trusted member of our business community,” said Bryck.
Debbie Palmer of Hadley said that when she arrived in the Pioneer Valley in 1973, she immediately recognized that Gladu offered similar qualities to her own father, who was an auto mechanic.
“I can’t imagine many other businesses in the city that have provided the level of service and care that Ren does,” Palmer said.
The friendly greetings customers receive as an employee fills the tank, checks the oil and washes the windshield, along with the banter and even the dogs who are always offered cookies, is what makes Ren’s so attractive to Robin Jaffin of Montague Road.
“Ren and his family’s garage and gas station is an iconic representation of the best of who we have been and can continue to be if we fight for it,” said Jaffin. “Losing the only station where you can get gas and community is a tragic and unacceptable outcome.”
Scott Merzbach can be reached at [email protected]