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Fate of car dealership remains to be seen

MARTINS FERRY — A long-standing car dealership in the city appears to be closing, leaving many wondering what the next step is for the property.

People likely have noticed in the last few weeks fewer and fewer vehicles for sale have been on Staffilino Chevrolet’s lot on Fourth Street in Martins Ferry.

The dealership’s owner, Joe Staffilino, recently said he was not ready to talk about what is occurring there or the site’s future. But during a recent City Council meeting, Mayor Robert Krajnyak said he had heard at least three other car dealerships in the area are interested in the property, which is highly visible from Ohio 7.

“It’s nothing we can control. I don’t know if it was poor business or whatever,” Krajnyak said during the public council meeting. “I think GM has come and gotten the majority of the vehicles off the lot. They have, I believe, three other auto dealers who are looking to possibly purchase it.

“We are also going to contact a truck dealership that would like to maybe relocate. Even if the car dealerships don’t work out or even if the truck dealership would look at it and say, ‘Yeah, we want it,’ and make them an offer on it, we’re trying to push that, too,” he said.

The Staffilino family purchased the dealership in 1981, relocating it to its current location at 900 S. Fourth St., Martins Ferry. In 2015, the company renovated the building, constructing a new showroom and revamping the exterior.

Staffilino could not be reached for comment. Doors to the showroom were locked during two different visits to the location last week and during a visit on Wednesday. During one of those visits, a motorist who said he was from West Virginia also arrived, noting he was hoping to get his vehicle serviced there. That part of the business, which is located next to the showroom building, is closed.

Last Friday, a man inside the store unlocked the door and said Staffilino was out of town and would be back Monday. He noted the dealership is open a limited basis.

According to the dealership’s website, www.staffilino.com, while ownership has changed hands, the Chevrolet dealership has been in operation in Martins Ferry since 1928. The original shop was opened by the Westlake brothers, who operated it until 1975 when it was purchased by Pete Lash.

In 1981, Joe Staffilino purchased the dealership that was then located on Zane Highway in Martins Ferry. In 1988, the current location consisting of more than 3 acres and building was purchased to relocate the business. The dealership has been in operation for 91 years this year.

A GM spokesman could not be reached for comment.

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