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Rochester dealer selling cars at St. Lawrence Centre, irking Massena businesses

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MASSENA — Vision Automotive Group, a Rochester-based car dealership, has set up a used car lot at St. Lawrence Centre with 100 to 120 cars for sale over the next two weeks.

“We’ve been doing this since 2010,” company sales manager Jeff LaChance said. “We offer big discounts and financing.”

Local car dealerships, though, aren’t enthusiastic about Vision’s visit, and Real C. “Frenchie” Coupal, owner of three dealerships in Massena, said he has spoken with town officials about enacting a law similar to one on the books in Watertown that prevents these types of businesses from coming for a couple of weeks and then leaving town. But until that law, which caps the length of time a temporary vendor can do business at 24 hours, is passed, Mr. Coupal said, there is nothing anyone can do about it.

Town of Oswegatchie car dealerships also have approached the Oswegatchie Town Council about passing a similar law to limit how often and for how long temporary businesses can operate. Vision Automotive Group has held two sales this fall at the former DealMaker Ford dealership at routes 68 and 37.

“They legally can do this until the town puts a law on the books to stop it,” Mr. Coupal said.

The law wouldn’t technically stop out-of-area dealers from setting up shop in Massena, but they would be unlikely to transport 100 vehicles to the town to set up for a sale that would last only 24 hours.

“It’s tough as it is out there, but this is going to make it even harder,” Mr. Coupal said. “We are going to lose sales. If we lose four or five sales and our Ford dealership loses four or five sales and Frank loses four or five sales, that adds up,” he said, referring to Blevins Seaway Motors general manager Frank Lallier.

Mr. Coupal and Mr. Lallier cautioned customers about transient car dealers. “I feel bad for those who are going to buy there,” Mr. Coupal said. “When the car breaks down, where are they going to get it fixed?”

“All of our vehicles are Carfax certified,” Mr. LaChance said, adding the business also is certified through the attorney general’s office and the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

St. Lawrence Centre marketing manager Ronald J. Patnode said the mall was approached about hosting a sale and since it had the available space, it decided to do so.

“They wanted to know if we have parking lot space available to conduct a 10-day auto sale, and we said sure,” Mr. Patnode said. “It was perfect for what they were looking for. I think this is a good setting to display and sell cars.”

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