AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo natives have their national chains of drug stores, fast food restaurants, and big box department stores, but national car dealerships are something new.
Virginia-based CarMax, Inc. is looking to replace the Holiday Inn Buffalo, on Niagara Falls Blvd., just north of the Youngmann Highway, with its first Buffalo-area used car lot.
CarMax is the largest chain of used car dealers in the country, and they have purchased an option on the lot in Amherst, to bring their no hassle, no haggle sales model to Western New York.
The company which has more than 140 dealerships in the U.S. and conducts national Internet sales, has a good reputation, according to Paul Stasiak, president of the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association.
“Any time there is a new kid on the block, there is a lot of excitement,” he said.
Stasiak said Association members welcome the competition, but it’s not the new car dealers that might be threatened by Car Max’s entry into the market — it’s the used car dealers and independents that will likely get a run for their money.
“Our dealers have been around a long time, and competition is nothing new,” he said. “We still think it is going to raise the bar, it is going to make people more competitive, more accountable.”
A spokesperson for CarMax told us, they have a long way to go to convert the hotel property to a car lot–zoning changes, environmental hurdles, and it could take a couple of years to get it done.
The closest CarMax lots to Buffalo are in Cleveland and Rochester, and the Rochester store just opened last year.
The CarMax spokesperson said in a statement that said, in part “We are growing nationwide and are excited to come to the Buffalo area. We look forward to bringing jobs to the Buffalo area, and through the CarMax Foundation, we will support local nonprofits and the causes important to their associates.”
Local dealers point out, a nationwide chain has taken this road before: Auction Direct, had a used car lot on Transit Road in Clarence which lasted about three years before throwing in the towel.
Industry experts also tell News 4, the Town of Amherst has strict zoning regulations for used car dealerships that could be a tough obstacle for CarMax to overcome.
Right now the area’s only existing national car chain, Michigan-based Zeigler Honda is just a few blocks north of the Holiday Inn on Niagara Falls Blvd., and replaced the former Don Davis Honda dealership, which was locally owned.
A spokesman told News 4, Zeigler has been breaking sales records for that location ever since it took over the lot in 2013.