CarMax may open at former Saturn dealership site in East Naples

The Richmond, Va.-based CarMax, a national used-car retailer, may purchase land in East Naples that was once the site of a Saturn dealership.

The Richmond, Va.-based CarMax, a national used-car retailer, may purchase land in East Naples that was once the site of a Saturn dealership.

A national used car retailer is looking to open in Collier County.

Elia Imler, a spokeswoman for CarMax, Inc., said recently the Virginia-based company is interested in buying land in East Naples. The land – about six acres at Airport-Pulling and Prospect roads – has not been purchased yet, but Imler said the company is interested in opening in the area.

“We look at areas that are currently not being serviced by CarMax,” Imler said.

The company opened its first location in Richmond, Va., in 1993, and gradually expanded to 105 locations in 26 states across the country. There are currently 11 stores in Florida. Five of those stores are near Miami and Fort Lauderdale, while two are in Tampa.

CarMax sold more than 404,000 retail vehicles in fiscal 2011. The majority of those were used cars, Imler said.

But CarMax isn’t your average used car lot. Imler said the company looks for property in areas with lots of retail shops, not necessarily car dealerships, because the company considers itself “a retailer not a dealership, because we’re a no-haggle” company.

No haggling, Imler said, means the price a buyer sees on the vehicle – or the service plan or trade-in offer – is the price they get. Imler said the experience is more like going shopping at grocery store than going to a traditional car dealer.

A store at the Naples location has not been announced yet, and Imler said if a sale goes through it could still be two or three years before Collier County residents can shop for a car at a local CarMax.

Imler said it takes time to obtain zoning permits and the necessary approvals, and the company doesn’t like to announce a store opening until those are all in place.

The company has announced plans to open three more stores before February 2012. None of those stores are in Southwest Florida.

The property the company is looking to purchase was once home to a Saturn dealership. The dealership closed its doors in 2009, after Saturn of Naples owners decided to merge with the Saturn of Fort Myers.

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