I love CarMax. My wife and I have sold three of our cars there, getting a better price than was offered by local dealerships here in Salem, Oregon.
So I got excited when someone told me that they'd seen a sign near the I-5 freeway saying that a CarMax store was coming to town. It's taken more than five years for this to happen since a February 2014 Statesman Journal story by Michael Rose was titled, "CarMax on the course toward Salem location."
CarMax Inc., a giant in the used car business with 130 locations nationwide, has started laying the groundwork for a Salem dealership.
City records show that CarMax has filled a land-use application to partition property in the 365 to 395 blocks of Lancaster Drive SE, near the Santiam 11 cinemas. CarMax is interested in building on two vacant parcels that face Interstate 5.
I didn't find any mention of an upcoming Salem store on the CarMax web site, so I emailed their media relations department a few days ago. They said they'd get back to me soon, which they did. Here's the breaking news.
Thank you for your interest in CarMax. We are pleased to confirm that CarMax does indeed have plans to open a store in Salem, and we are looking forward to providing customers there with our simple and stress-free used car shopping experience. The location is slated to open in February of 2020.
Store Details and Hiring
The Salem location will be the company’s 3rd store in the state of Oregon. CarMax typically invests between $10 and $25 million on each store location depending upon the size of the store and its capabilities (service operations, reconditioning, auction services, etc.).
We anticipate hiring approximately 10-15 associates for this particular store and anticipate carrying inventory of about 100-150 used vehicles on the lot. CarMax maximizes customer choice by offering a large selection and by making our nationwide inventory of nearly 50,000 vehicles available for viewing on our website, www.carmax.com, as well as our mobile app.
Upon request by a customer, CarMax will also transfer most used cars among the company’s 200+ stores which allows customers greater access to a much larger selection of inventory.
CarMax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, revolutionized the automotive retail industry by driving integrity, honesty and transparency in every interaction. CarMax continues to innovate and is currently rolling out an omni-channel experience, providing customers the option to complete transactions entirely from home, in store, or in a seamless combination of both.
CarMax has more than 200 stores nationwide, and during the latest fiscal year sold nearly 750,000 used cars and 450,000 wholesale vehicles at its in-store auctions. With more than 25,000 associates, CarMax is proud to have been recognized for 15 consecutive years as one of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®. For more information, visit www.carmax.com.
Thanks again for reaching out, and we hope you’ll have a chance to shop at the store.
CarMax Public Relations
If you're not familiar with CarMax, it offers no-hassle car selling and buying. I've never bought a car from CarMax, but I'm familiar with the selling process -- which is marvelously efficient and pleasant, two words that don't describe my experience with getting offers from dealerships in Salem.
As the CarMax web site says, there's no haggling and no pressure. Here's how the process goes when someone wants to sell CarMax a vehicle. I'm assuming the buying process is equally smooth.
We've made an appointment ahead of time, since currently the closest CarMax store is in Beaverton, off of 217, and we want to be done before Portland-area rush hour traffic starts (of course, "rush hour" is just about any time of day now). There's another store in the Portland area, but nowhere else in Oregon. So Salem is fortunate to be getting one.
It takes about 45 minutes for a car to be driven and inspected. The CarMax employees who do this are experts. I watched them do their thing when I took my Mini Cooper S in for an offer. My wife has handled the Toyota Highlander and Chevy Volt offers.
Then you get an offer sheet.
The price on it is a take-it-or-leave-it offer. As noted above, we've taken it on each of the three cars we've sold to CarMax, since the price was considerably more than what Salem dealerships were offering, even dealerships of the brand we were trying to sell.
Sure, if we sold the car on our own, there's a good chance we could have gotten more money. However, I've sold quite a few cars on my own, and it's never a pleasant process. Generally either nobody responds to an ad for weeks, and/or I get lowball calls from people who say "I see you're trying to sell your _____ for $15,000. Would you accept $7,000?"
No. I wouldn't.
The CarMax purchase offer is good for a week. If you decide to accept it, you simply bring the car to CarMax and walk up to the Business Office counter.
Then an employee quickly and courteously prints out the paperwork, and you're on your way with a check within half an hour or so, after they take a look at your car to make sure everything is out of it, and it's in the same condition as when the offer was made.
CarMax will even buy cars that are being leased, as was the case with the Chevy Volt we sold to CarMax this month. It can shift cars around the country, matching supply and demand, so that's part of the reason for CarMax's success.
But there's more to it than that.
When I complimented a CarMax employee on how smoothly their customer experience operates, she said, "We're always looking for ways to improve." I'm hoping that with CarMax coming to Salem, this will put pressure on local dealerships to improve the ways they sell and buy vehicles.