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Rust Check owner opens auto repair shop in former Chiappone’s Tire | Business

WATERTOWN — Motorists might wonder why a small sign has recently appeared in the window of the old Chiappone’s Tire Warehouse on West Main Street.

Businessman Terry Smith recently purchased the property at 557 W. Main St. and has opened an auto repair shop in the building that had been home to the tire store for nearly 50 years.

Smith, who has owned the Rust Check franchise on Water Street for almost 11 years, could not think of a better way to honor the family, so he’s keeping Chiappone in the name of his business and on the building.

“I want to dedicate the building to the Chiappone family,” he said.

Chiappone’s Tire Warehouse was a north country staple for almost 50 years until it closed its doors for good in April and owner Michael Chiappone, 89, and manager Joseph Roselli, 77, retired.

A month ago, Smith, 44, a father of four, purchased the tire store building from Chiappone after talking to the family about the deal for some time. The Chiappone family finally agreed to sell it for $340,000.

“I’ve known the Chiappone family all of my life,” he said.

Smith is relocating Rust Check from Water Street and expanding the business into an automobile service, selling tires, offering brake, muffler, suspension and other repairs and issuing New York inspections. He’s bringing his three employees with him.

“My customers have been (asking) me for years why I didn’t do auto service,” he said.

He’s naming it Rust Check at Chiappone Tire. Chiappone was surprised by the gesture.

“I think he thought it was touching,” Smith said. “They’re just a wonderful family and everyone knows them in the community.”

Eleven years ago, Smith opened his Rust Check business after securing the first franchise in the United States from the Canadian company.

For years, he drove his car, and everyone’s in his family, up to the closest Rust Check franchise in Canada to get the rust prevention treatment on their vehicles, he said.

He kept telling Rust Check owner Tony Jbeily to open a franchise in Watertown, but Jbeily was hesitant to expand into the states, he recalled.

“I started bringing my cars to him when I was 16, 17, 18 years old,” he said, noting that still gets the treatment on the car that he owned when he was in high school, a 1989 Cadillac Brougham.

“It’s like the company motto says, ‘Time-tested and proven since 1973,’” he said.

The Water Street company services 25 vehicles a day, Smith said.

Chiappone, who could not be reached for comment, opened the tire store in 1974 on Mill Street before moving to its West Main Street location in 1985.

“It’s been enjoyable to be part of this community,” Chiappone said on the day that the tire store closed in April.

And now Smith said he hopes to carry on that tradition.

He’s now celebrating a soft opening in the new location and is planning a grand opening in the spring.

Until then, the building will get spruced up with interior improvements. He painted the building’s exterior last summer.

A new sign will soon be installed on the building in the exact spot that Chiappone Tire’s had been on the building for decades.

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