Friday, March 27, 2015

CarMax Aims to Plug into Buford Market

CarMax planning new Buford dealership

Richmond, Virginia-based CarMax plans to open a new dealership on a vacant seven acre parcel on Buford Drive near the Mall of Georgia.  The land sits between Shad Mistubishi and AutoNation Volkswagen, just off interstate 985.  

In my research for this post I was shocked to learn that CarMax started as a division of Circuit City!  

CarMax currently operates eight dealerships in Georgia in Roswell, Augusta, Columbus, Lithia Springs, Norcross, Savannah, Stockbridge and Kennesaw.  CarMax also operates a mini "car buying center" in a converted gas station at the intersection of Chamblee Dunwoody Road and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard  (listed as their "Buckhead" location) in Chamblee.

A typical CarMax will have between 250-500 cars across dozens of brands and various price ranges at any time. A traditional dealership is more likely to have between 30-100 cars on hand, and often only a few brands represented.  

Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based AutoNation is CarMax's largest rival.  Whereas CarMax primarily only opens large format "superstores," a typical AutoNation is far smaller. Additionally, CarMax focuses largely on the used car market, while AutoNation tends to skew more toward new cars. In both cases, the companies bring a single brand name to an often fragmented and localized industry.  

AutoNation operates ten locations in metro Atlanta including FIAT, Toyota, Scion and the aforementioned Volkswagen dealership near the Mall of Georgia. 

Plans call for the new CarMax in Buford to open sometime late this year or early next year. 

Where did you you buy your last new or used car?  Are you a fan of the traditional dealership,  the CarMax model, Craigslist or new services like Carvana?  What is the first thing you look for in a car?

Please share your thoughts below.  


HAM said...

I wonder if the CarMax location in Norcross might close. Is there enough geographic separation between the two?

I’ve purchased my last four cars new from traditional dealerships, but my next purchase will probably be slightly used. I would consider CarMax, but may lean more toward some type of certified used car from a traditional dealer.

Anonymous said...

Do you know when the AutoNation Mercedes-Benz of Marietta on Cobb parkway will open? Thank you.

vespajet said...

AutoNation in its' early days was similar to CarMax, as they had large lots and specialized in used vehicles (CarMax does sell new cars at some of their locations, as the Norcross location sells Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram. The Southlake location used to sell Jeep.). Landmark Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep/Ram dealership in Morrow was one of the original AutoNation locations in Atlanta. One of their other locations was in Stone Mountain on Mountain Industrial just south of US-78. It's be sitting there empty for a number of years know.

I bought my current vehicle from CarMax about 11 years ago (I kept the car so long as for over 9 of those years I barely drove it as my job at the time included a company vehicle I got to drive home.) and a few other family members have gone there as well to get cars. Would I buy my next car through them? Perhaps, as the no haggle pricing also applies to the new cars at locations that sell them.

As for the commenter wondering if they would close the Norcross location once the Buford one opens, I doubt it. The distance between the two is similar the distance between the Norcross location and the location in Roswell. Plus the Norcross location has a Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram dealership franchise for that area which probably drives some sales for them.

Anonymous said...

I went to Norcross CarMax when I was buying a car not too long ago. It was September and the place was hot and smelled like feet. It took us some time to get someone to help us outside in the heat. (They did give us water bottles, though, so shout out to them.) One of the cars I looked at reeked of cigarettes. Then they gave me such a laughably bad finance deal that my mom, who was guiding me through this Adventure in Adulting, was like YEAHNO we're out of here and we bounced to Ed Voyles Kia in Chamblee. She'd bought her car there and I ended up finding a great deal on a used-but-pretty-new Toyota. So my one experience with CarMax wasn't great... (Seriously, the feet smell was BRUTAL.)

I remember that location in Stone Mountain, though, like vespajet mentions! It's just been nothing for years now, but it's right off 78, so you'd think someone might want it.

The Doubtful Guest said...

Carmax has a sound business model. I've bought 4 cars from them in the last 20 years and have always gotten excellent service, a great car, and no hassles. All but one of these purchases were at the Norcross store, and I've used their service department several times with the same results. I doubt I'd ever buy anywhere else.