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New car lot offers a twist

Photo by Michael Kelly Marni Matheny and Kevin Hall talk in the showroom of KMA Auto at 1320 Pike St. on Friday. The two are partners in the new venture, which opened last month and offers a showroom experience for used car shoppers. The business includes a full service department and a detailing shop.

Marietta’s newest auto sales enterprise offers an unusual twist: pre-owned car shopping with a showroom experience.

Marni Matheny and Kevin Hall have decades of experience in selling cars and trucks, and the two decided to join forces for a new venture. They bought the 12,000-square-foot building that used to house Big 4 Motor Sports as a location. The shop at 1320 Pike St. is on 3.8 acres and, unlike most used car businesses, includes a complete mechanical service department and a detail shop.

“We just painted it and cleaned it up, added a door,” Hall, 52, said, pointing at a big entryway that allows cars to be driven in off the lot. “It’s a 30-car showroom, and we’re hoping that will be an advantage. In bad weather people can shop inside, or they can wait inside while we bring a car in off the lot for them to look at.”

The showroom includes a leisure area where children can play and adults can relax in reclining sofas while watching television. The shop acquired a mascot during its grand opening, which included an adoption event for the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley.

“We named him Kami,” Hall said, looking at the kitten perched on a salesman’s lap.

Matheny, 54, was a dealership controller for more than 30 years, and Hall has 22 years of sales experience.

“She knows the back end, and I know the front,” he said.

The shop, which on Friday afternoon had 96 vehicles on the lot waiting to be sold, also includes a mechanical service department and a detail operation.

“We’re hoping to draw people in with that, and we can also service the vehicles we sell,” Hall said. “We want to take care of people after they buy.”

Hall also said he likes the visibility of the location.

“We get 25,000 to 35,000 vehicles driving by a day, and we need just a small fraction of them to stop in,” he said.

At any given moment, about 2 or 3 percent of the population is in the market for a vehicle, he said, so the business is competitive. Hall said they consider the entire Mid-Ohio Valley as their market area, but noted that the reach of the internet can bring in people from out of state.

“You can shop for a vehicle online, get the financing, do the paperwork, everything but your signature at the bottom, it’s just crazy,” he said. The internet cuts both ways, however, because it increases competition as well, he said.

“We have a streamlined process that can get you in and out in less than an hour,” he said. “There’s no high pressure, we want it to be relaxing, for people to feel at home, to make a good decision.”

Matheny said people are often looking for very specific makes and qualities in vehicles.

“No two used cars are alike,” she said.

They have four experienced sales people, two mechanics and a detail specialist on staff.

“You won’t find a more dedicated staff,” Hall said. “You’re only as good as the people around you.”

Hall said their intention is to have the inventory up to 130 vehicles by spring. The shop has an indoor cornhole tournament scheduled for Nov. 16.

“You can come in and play, watch the Buckeye’s game,” he said.

The lot’s hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Michael Kelly can be contacted at mkelly@mariettatimes.com.

KMA Auto

• Owners: Marni Matheny and Kevin Hall.

• Staff: 10.

• Used vehicle sales in a showroom atmosphere.

• Location: 1320 Pike St.

• Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

• For information: 740-538-850 or kmaauto1.com

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