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Archive for Monday, February 14, 1994

CAR DEALERS LOOK TO PUT BRAKES ON SUNDAY SALES

February 14, 1994

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The state's car dealers are at it again -- trying to get the Legislature to outlaw Sunday car sales in Kansas.

The issue boils down to family values, says Dale Willey, a Lawrence car dealer who has been pushing for three years to require car dealers to close shop on Sundays.

"Typically in our country, the one time the entire family can be together -- the mom, the dad, the son, the daughter -- is a Sunday. So from that standpoint, family values is the primary motive," said Willey, a former president of the Kansas Automobile Dealers Assn.

"We would like to be able to have one day that we would like to not have to require our people to work," said Willey, who operates Dale Willey Pontiac-Cadillac-GMC Truck, 2840 Iowa.

Willey said he and other members of the KADA, which represents new-car dealers, and the Kansas Independent Automobile Dealers Assn., which speaks for used-car dealers, favor prohibiting Sunday sales.

"From the consumer side, it gives them one day to do their window shopping and comparison shopping without any perceived pressure from sales people," Willey said.

Similar bills have been introduced in the House and the Senate that would change the state's licensing law for car dealers, manufacturers and salesman to prohibit Sunday sales. Hearings have not yet been scheduled for the bills.

Willey said this is the third time the car dealers have taken the issue to the Legislature. Last year a similar measure was defeated on a 60-61 vote in the House.

The bill's chances this year are better, he said. More legislators are becoming aware of the importance of building family values as a way to prevent criminal activity among youths, he said.

"I think the Legislature has an open mind on the issue," Willey said.

The only new-car dealer open on Sunday in Lawrence is Sonny Hill Chevrolet-Geo-Oldsmobile, 3400 S. Iowa.

Donald "Sonny" Haugland, who owns the Sonny Hill dealership, is not opposed to the law and has told his employees they can lobby in favor of the law, said LeRoy Poage, general manager.

Poage said the local dealership is open on Sundays because of competition with the Kansas City-area dealers.

"We'd all prefer not to do it," Poage said.

Willey said 19 others states have similar laws prohibiting Sunday sales, including Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

"So it's not that Kansas dealers are asking anything special," he said.

Legislators often ask why dealers can't just voluntarily close, he said.

"That we can do," Willey said. "But competitive pressures being what they are, they dictate whether we stay open. Every sale counts. If you lose a sale or two over a Sunday when ours is closed and an out-of-town (dealer) is open, then dealers will say I can't afford not to be open."

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