The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

January 30, 2014

Car sales freeze up with cold

But service depts. booming, dealers say

By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor

MERCER COUNTY — A number of businesses these days are feeling like the lonely repairman in the old Maytag commercials – there’s just not a lot happening.

Multiple hits of arctic blasts bringing sub-zero wind chills  over the past month have left store owners in the cold when it comes to customers. But that, they said, means now is the time to get quick service and possibly better deals.

“People don’t want to buy a car in these kinds of elements,’’ said Gregg McCandless, owner of McCandless Ford in East Lackawannock Township. “It’s a buyers market now. Dealers are going to pay closer attention to vehicle sales when the temperature is zero degrees.’’

On the service side McCandless said he’s operating at full tilt as the fierce weather is playing havoc with vehicles.

“This weather is hard on parts that need to get fixed,’’ he said. “We’re seeing people needing batteries, alternators, charging issues and fueling issues.’’

Fellow car dealer Ben Bissett, owner of Ben Bissett Chevrolet located in the same township, said sales haven’t been bad.

“But you do have to work more to keep it going,’’ Bissett said.

His employees daily clean snow and ice off cars and overnight place as many as they can inside the dealership building, which has heated floors.

“When a customer comes in no one wants to look at a car packed with ice,’’ Bissett said.

He also is seeing an upsurge at his service department due to weather taking a toll on cars and trucks.

“Just about anything that can go wrong with a vehicle can be magnified with the cold,’’ he said.

For another mode of transportation though, the service department is looking for work.

Mike Kavulla, co-owner of The Bicycle Store in Hermitage, said anyone who stored their bike knowing it needed a repair can get a quick turnaround now.

“People usually wait until the first weeks of warm weather in the spring to get their bike serviced,’’ Kuvalla said.

Over the decades manufacturers and suppliers have pretty much figured out how to handle their stock so now consumers can usually get any bike they want within three days through most of the year, he added.

The store’s core market are bikes for family use. Children who continually grow through their mid-teens need to replace their bikes, which helps sales.

“But adults are done growing. They will have a bike pretty much for the rest of their lives,’’ Kavulla said.