KENTWOOD, Mich. -- CarMax Inc.'s national footprint got bigger this month when it stepped into Michigan with store No. 167 on Nov. 16.
Its first store in the state is in western Michigan near Grand Rapids on a busy retail block. The 45,000-square-foot retail store and service center are on a 20-acre site.
A visitor about a week before the store's grand opening found many of the spaces on its lot vacant. A 2016 Sonic LS with 4,000 miles on its odometer and a $12,599 price tag sat in one place and several cars and empty spaces over was a 2014 Dodge Challenger RT Plus, packing an 8-cylinder Hemi engine. It had 11,000 miles and a $27,998 price tag.
When fully stocked, the store will carry approximately 200 used vehicles. But its customers will have access, via the company's CarMax app or carmax.com, to about 50,000 vehicles at CarMax's other stores. For a fee, the company will move one of those vehicles to a store near a buyer.
Excluding service technicians, few CarMax associates have automotive retail experience, said R.J. Reilly, the store's general manager.
Among the new store's sales team are a former restaurant manager, former retail salespeople and people with experience in corporate training and real estate sales. There is also a former stay-at-home mom who is re-entering the work force.
"Our associates are representative of people you see in the community," said Reilly, 37, who managed a Golf Galaxy sporting goods store in Des Moines, Iowa, before joining CarMax three years ago. "They have different experiences but they're all here because we've seen something in them that we think will make them successful."
The Michigan store was built with the capacity to offer reconditioning services in the future. For now, the vehicles it sells will be reconditioned at other CarMax stores. It will add a wholesale auto auction in early 2017, Reilly said.
Publicly traded CarMax, of Richmond, Va., built its reputation selling late-model used vehicles in a low-pressure, no-haggle environment. Its vehicles come with a 5-day money-back guarantee and at least a 30-day limited warranty, according to its most recent annual report.
It is the nation's No. 1 retailer of used vehicles, having sold 619,936 used cars and trucks in its latest fiscal year that ended Feb. 29. In the same period, it wholesaled, at its auctions such as the one it plans to open at the new store, 394,437 cars and trucks that it took as trade-ins or bought from consumers but which did not fit its sales criteria.