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Checking In With ... Christine Montana:

Quality inspection

CarMax may be new, but its general manager says residents already coming by.

July 03, 2008|By Jack Salisbury

The CarMax on Harbor Boulevard has been open for just three weeks, but it already appears to have established itself within the Costa Mesa community. The lot was the site of Southern California’s “Survivor” casting call last month and is in a can’t-miss location just south of the 405 Freeway.

With gas prices at all-time highs and many questioning the future of the automotive industry, this wouldn’t appear to be the best time to open a car dealership. However, CarMax centers its business on used vehicles of all kinds and may have the flexibility to prosper despite the rising price of oil. General Manager Christine Montana sat down with the Daily Pilot to discuss the effect of gas prices and the overall outlook the dealership has.

Your lot has been open for less than a month. How have things been running so far?

Very smoothly. The community’s very happy to have us here. We have a lot of local folks coming through; they’re very excited to see us. They actually tend to be very familiar with the CarMax product. I feel like things have been running even better than we had expected, to be quite honest.

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Talk about the challenges that go into opening a new dealership like yours.

This lot was still empty in November of 2007. We’ve had an excellent construction crew, and the city’s been wonderful with getting our permits in on time and everything.

What are the benefits of buying a car used as opposed to new? Would you ever recommend someone not to buy their car used?

There’s not really a reason to not buy a used vehicle. We put all of our vehicles through the 125-point inspection, so you know you’re getting a vehicle that’s in great condition. A lot of the vehicles that we get at CarMax have very low miles; the initial depreciation has already happened. You know that it’s not going to get that huge drop in dollars once you leave the lot.

More than anything, it’s a quality vehicle that has been inspected.

What makes CarMax different from other dealerships?

We purchase our vehicles from our customers. The thing that made CarMax different is that we made it a non-threatening environment. We’ll give you the best price up front; we won’t haggle with you. It’s about opening up the process, so it’s a lot more friendly and open to our customers.

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