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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, May 19, 2014, 7:00 am

CarMax plans Santa Rosa store

Would be Fortune 500 company’s second North Bay location

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    SANTA ROSA — CarMax (NYSE: KMX), the nation’s largest used-car retailer, plans to open a dealership on the Corby auto row in what would be its second North Bay location.

    CarMax stores generally have a common design

    CarMax stores generally have a common design. (credit: CarMax)

    The Richmond, Va.-based company filed an application with the city of Santa Rosa to build an 11,500-square-foot showroom and office building, adjoining 3,300-square-foot service center and 900-square-foot car wash on just more than seven acres stretching from 2800 Corby Ave. back to 477 Quillco Ct. off Dowd Drive, according to documents filed March 13.

    The plan includes demolishing the existing dealership building and service center, formerly occupied by Hansel Prestige Imports, and improving the site with a separate parking for customers and employees and a gated lot for inventory.

    CarMax describes the proposed Santa Rosa store as a “high-end retail operation” without promotional flags, balloons, window lettering, hood placards or “inflatable gorillas.”

    “It typically can take two to three years for the approval and construction process to open a store,” said spokeswoman Michelle Topping Ellwood.

    The company prides itself on low, no-haggle prices, a broad selection of CarMax Quality Certified used vehicles, and superior customer service. The service center generally is used to recondition cars the company purchases after an instore appraisal. But it’s also available for routine maintenance for buyers who opt for a service plan.

    During the 12 months ending Feb. 28, the most-recent reporting period, the company sold 526,929 used cars and 342,576 vehicles at in-store wholesale auctions to licensed dealers. Vehicles acquired but not up to CarMax standards are resold at the private auctions.

    Unit sales of used cars in comparable stores increased 12 percent last fiscal year and 18 percent overall. Net sales and operating revenues increased 15 percent to $12.57 billion. 

    CarMax’s share of sales of pre-owned vehicles up to 10 years old increased by 17 percent last fiscal year, the company reported.

    Wholesale unit sales increased 5 percent in fiscal 2013.

    Income for the company’s inhouse lender, CarMax Auto Finance, increased 12 percent to $336.2 million last fiscal year.

    The Santa Rosa proposal had its first city Application Review Team meeting on April 8 and is tentatively scheduled for a hearing before the Planning Commission on June 26.

    The design team for the Santa Rosa store includes Pittsburgh- and Atlanta-based Pieper O’Brien Herr Architects, which handles CarMax locations nationwide, the Santa Rosa office of BKF Engineers and MacNeil Landscape Architecture of Kenwood.

    CarMax operates 135 stores in 67 markets. The Fairfield location, built on the site of two recently remodeled dealership buildings, opened last year as part of a return to expansion mode for the company after the economic recession.

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