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Published: 8/16/2011 - Updated: 2 years ago

CarMax plans Sylvania Twp. store

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Editor's note: This version corrects the number of used car sales in Lucas County.

CarMax, a Fortune 500 firm with 105 locations with 26 states, uses a "no haggling" policy to sell used cars. CarMax, a Fortune 500 firm with 105 locations with 26 states, uses a "no haggling" policy to sell used cars.
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CarMax Inc., the nation's largest used-car retailer, which is known for its "no haggling" sales policy, has found a site in Sylvania Township on the so-called Central Avenue auto strip where it plans to open a store within three years.

The 13,000-square-foot store, on the site of the former Kmart at Central Avenue at Holland Sylvania Road, would be the first presence of a national used-car dealer serving all customers in the Toledo area.

Sam Yake, an analyst at BGB Securities Inc. in Arlington, Va., said CarMax likes to swap vehicles among its car superstores, so stores it has elsewhere in Ohio and in Michigan would help that process. The company usually has hundreds of used cars on a lot and it typically draws customers from 50 miles or more.

The company, which is on the Fortune 500 list and has public stock, operates on a set price policy, with no negotiation on sales prices.

The local store could open more quickly, a spokesman said, if the company obtains zoning and other regulatory permits from the township.

"We are under contract, although the property is not purchased yet," said Elia Imler, a spokesman for CarMax of Richmond, Va. The company, she said, has obtained an option to buy the closed Kmart store and its surrounding property at 5956 West Central Ave. The site is owned by Friedman Integrated Real Estate Solutions of Farmington Hills, Mich.

CarMax has completed a feasibility study of the site and the Toledo area and will submit plans for the 11-acre site to the township zoning department, Ms. Imler said.

Tim DeWitt, township planning and zoning manager, said he had an informal meeting with CarMax officials about six weeks ago to answer questions the company had about the zoning process.

"The truth of the matter," Ms. Imler said, "is we're really early in the process and there's not a lot of information."

Still, the company has identified the Toledo area as a good market for a store, she said.

There were 84,349 used vehicles sold in Lucas County last year and 43,781 through June of this year, according to the county Clerk of Courts office.

CarMax, which had sales of $8.9 billion and profits of $380.9 million in fiscal 2011, has 105 locations in 26 states, including two stores in Columbus and one store each in Cincinnati and Dayton.

Mr. Yake, the analyst, said of CarMax, "They like to cluster stores for a variety of reasons. They can transfer inventory back and forth and they can do local marketing between stores in a state. So, to me, it would make a lot of sense to be in Toledo."

CarMax has obtained an option to buy the closed Kmart
store on Central Avenue in Sylvania Township. The company still needs to obtain regulatory permits. CarMax has obtained an option to buy the closed Kmart store on Central Avenue in Sylvania Township. The company still needs to obtain regulatory permits.
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The company pays its sales staff a set salary, rather than commission, and it will buy any car, regardless of whether the seller buys a vehicle from CarMax.

"It sounds corny," Mr. Yake said, "but they really take care of their employees and their customers and they feel that if they take care of their employees and customers, their shareholders will end up being happy."

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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