In the research conducted in Chicago, some information was discovered about the business life of Dan Gaines. It is known he was born in Tennessee and the family moved to Chicago sometime in the 1920s. As referenced earlier, there were advertisements in The Chicago Defender announcing the Grand Opening of Dan Gaines Motor Sales (Authorized Ford Dealers-August-1936) located at 4533-41 Cottage Grove.
Such advertisements had been noticed by Nathan Thompson that led to the research to determine which African-American was the first to be awarded a new car franchise.
It is evident that business was good. In July of 1937 Gaines moved into larger facilities at 5025 Wabash Avenue where he remained in business until 1940. As you tour the existing facility structure, it can be concluded that Gaines had sufficient space for both new/used car sales and adequate service capacity. His staff was African-American and focused on selling into the black community.
Although there is no confirmation within the Ford Motor Company franchising files, there is sufficient evidence to confirm that Gaines was an authorized Ford dealer. In all of his many advertisements published in the Defender in the late 1930's, he often referenced the fact that he was "America's Only Authorized Race Ford Dealer".
As you review his advertisements, you note the pictures of the facilities included Ford authorized signage which would have required company approval. His ads often were those prepared by the company for insertion in local press and his statements about race support were 'true' based on available records.
Importantly, if he had not been authorized, some of the 60 Ford dealers in the Chicago market would have strenuously objected to his marketing into areas in which they also sought business. Putting it all together, it can be concluded Dan Gaines was the first franchised Ford dealer.
It was also noted that Gaines invested in numerous other business enterprises. For example, he operated a loan company for many years and was in the real estate business. Research confirms that he owned a hotel on the Southside of Chicago and sold and serviced juke box machines in local bars and restaurants. As a result of the latter, Gaines was often referred to as the "Juke Box Man". As stated, although not much was written about Dan Gaines, it can be documented he was a man of diverse and extensive business talents.
When Gaines died at the age of 92, his Death Certificate identified his "Usual Occupation" as "Retired" (typed in). "Retired" was crossed out and replaced with the hand-written word "Merchant". In the box showing "Type of Business" was "Self Employed". It is suggested these descriptions well describe the business talents of Gaines. It is also appropriate to conclude just that: Dan Gaines was a successful entrepreneur who achieved considerable business success in a variety of enterprises, including the retail car business as a Ford dealer.