Board says no-go to used car tent sale at the mall

FLINT TWP. — The township board was not sold on a proposal from Suski Pre-owned to hold a two-week tent sale in the Genesee Valley Center mall parking lot.

Despite a fervent sales pitch by Kevin Puente, general manger of Suski Used Cars on Dort Hwy. in Flint, the board voted four to two against the request at its meeting Monday night.

Supervisor Karyn Miller and Trustee Frank Kasle voted in favor of the sale. Trustee George Menoutes was absent.

Suski sought permission to pitch two tents and bring in about 150 cars to the south parking lot near Macy’s department store for a sale from April 25 to May 5. The dealership would provide two port-a-potties and trash receptacles. Operating hours would be from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

The application included insurance coverage and other standard tent sale documentation.

Puente pitched the sales event as an economic booster. They planned to give away $5 no-obligation mall gift cards – about $15,000 worth – to customers at the sale. Mall owners get rent and the benefit of customers spending more than the face value of the gift cards, the state gets sales taxes and fees; banks get loan interest, car accessory vendors get after-sale business and more, Puente said.

He noted the “great reputation” of the Suski dealership in Birch Run and the opening of used car dealerships on Dort Highway and in Lapeer.

He also hinted that they have an eye on buying property in Flint Township.

“As the economy is struggling, we have employed 75 people,’’ he said, citing car inspection engineers as an example.

Suski’s has held similar sales at its Birch Run dealership for the past six and three since the Dort Hwy. location opened last year. The events can generate about 50 sales in a two-day period, Puente said, adding that they would like to repeat the event two or three times a year which could generate $75,000 or more of annual business for the mall.

Suski’s application included letters of support signed by Ed McHale, mall general manager, spelling out terms of the tent sale, contingent on the board’s permission.

The recommendation to deny the request came in a motion from Clerk Kim Courts, who cited congestion in the busy mall parking lot among other things.

Trustee Frank Kasle called the denial “ill advised.” He cited the economic benefit to the mall and surrounding businesses.

“We are taking big hits in reduction of property taxes,” Kasle said. “To turn this down does not make sense. Let’s try it. If there are problems we will look at that next time.”

Treasurer Sandra Wright and Trustee Belenda Parker both said allowing the sale was unfair to other tax-paying dealerships permanently located in the township.

Parker also said it would not look good to have 150 cars, portable toilets and trash containers in the mall parking lot for two weeks.

“We have to start setting standards for what we want to see in our township,’’ she said.

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