• Feb 26, 2007

Quebec is probably the last place in North America where some businesses are still forbidden to open on weekends. Although the practice has long since dissipated in other retail sectors, car dealerships in Montreal still adhere to an archaic 35-year-old policy that dates back to when the Catholic church still had a strong hold on French Canadian society.

One dealership in this writer's home town is departing from that policy, and he's facing tough opposition. Pie IX Dodge Chrysler (pronounced pee nuf, on the street named after Pope Pius the 9th) is a dealership on the island's predominantly French east end, next to the Olympic stadium that once hosted the Montreal auto salon before it moved to the convention center downtown. They decided to open on weekends, selling cars on Saturday and Sunday, a move opposed by other area dealerships and their association (which also organizes the annual car show). Pie IX's sales have gone up, despite the protests outside. The demonstrators include salesmen from other dealerships (which remain closed on the weekend) and from nearby used car lots (which are open on the weekend). If new car dealerships were to open on weekends, the association says the salesmen will be overworked, while the used car lots will lose business. One protestor even went so far as to hit the manager at Pie IX Dodge Chrysler in the head with a block of ice and was arrested for assault. Demonstrators were also thought to have jammed the dealership's phone lines.

Despite the opposition, and with support from DaimlerChrysler, owner Claude Leclair says he plans to keep his dealership open on weekends, quoting sales figures of over a dozen cars each weekend, while competing dealerships are suspected to be operating in the red. Kinda gives new meaning to the old Quebec separatist slogan "Vive la Quebec Libre" – long live a free Quebec.

[Source: The Montreal Gazette via Jalopnik]



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  • 15 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      salesmen overworked?

      Ok, are they just asking for us to apply our hard-work-is-forbidden-in-France jokes?
      • 7 Years Ago
      So what you have to take off work or go in the evening to buy a car? How stupid. I bet half or most of a dealer's revenue comes from Saturday sales.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hey #6, you super genius you... France and Canada are two different countries!!! Open up an atlas why don't you!!!
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think the dealerships should have a choice. it is breaking one of the Ten Commandments, but then again, you have a choice to that, too.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It's "Vive le Québec Libre" as Québec is a masculine word.
      • 7 Years Ago
      just so you know, saying "Vive la Quebec Libre" in journalism is generally avoided...it's an extremely contentious remark
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wow...I live in Ontario (next to Quebec for those that don't know), and I've never heard of such a stupid practice (no offense to those that are from Quebec and practice this).

      In my opinion, they should be opened...I mean you'll get more business anyways.

      Tina Silva
      http://redirect.alexa.com/redirect?blog.pimentels-photography.com
      • 7 Years Ago
      What most of you don't know and what is not said in the article is that it's not a law (municipal, provincial or federal) that forbids new-car-dealers from opening on the weekend. It's the provincial car dealers association that have a gentlemans-agreement not to open on weekends (Saturday or Sunday).
      The car-stealership-mafioso is doing the strong-arming, which also includes vandalising new cars on the lot.

      The dealers that are opening are saying that they are not there to steal sales from their new-car counterparts but rather from 2-3-4 year old used (off-lease) cars with 2nd and 3rd chances at credit. There are a few these large used car dealerships / networks that have sprung up in the past few years.

      The dealerships keep the Monday-to-Friday schedule to keep the pressure on the car-buying public, giving them a wall to back the potential customer in to.

      New car dealers who open on the weekends are also being refused the industry standard car-swapping flexibility, where dealers can pick cars out of the inventory of other dealers to close sales.

      The break-away has been attempted before but has always been halted by the auto-mafia. If Pie-IX and other dealers can hold out for a bit, they will certainly break the back of other dealers.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm originally from Minnesota and I moved to California, and it annoyed me when I found out that dealerships are open on Sundays. Back in MN, I could just go to the car lot on a Sunday and look over the cars they had, but here I can't go on Sunday without somebody chasing me off the lot trying to talk me into buying today.

      I figure if there's one immoral activity that the world needs one day per week off from, it's dealing with car salesmen.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Just had a second thought. I don't know that much about how a dealership operates, but I wonder if the finance centers these dealers work with are open for business on the weekends?
      Guess it would make sense that a deal could not be completed until loan approval was finalized.
      Some one fill me in.

      I do like #4's statements; probably a lot of truth in them.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yeah, here in Pennsylvania you can't sell cars on Sunday... But then again, there a lot of things you still cannot do here in Pennsylvania. Stupid Quakers!
      • 7 Years Ago
      I live in Minnesota and it is illegal for any car dealerships, including small used car lots, to be open on Sunday. Recent attempts to change this have been fought by the dealers themselves, claiming the same issue of overworked staff. Personally, I think they just like to have the leverage over a buyer who can only come in on Saturday. If the buyer knows he can't come in the next day, he's more likely to make a quick decision. It may have started as a blue law, but it's now just about screwing the customer. Just another reason why I don't like most car dealerships.
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