1981. Ronald Reagan becomes President. Lady Diana Spencer marries Prince Charles. President Reagan appoints Sandra Day O’Connor to the U.S. Supreme Court. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” debuts in theaters. The first DeLorean DMC-12 futuristic sports car is produced. Muhammad Ali retires.
And on August 1, Bill Fleeman opens the doors to the first Car-Mart in Rogers, Ark. – in a converted Dog ‘N Suds fast-food operation. Bill, a former homebuilder, sells quality, used vehicles to credit-challenged customers and carries the note for customers.
What began as a small-town operation has since grown into America’s Car-Mart, one of the largest publicly held automotive retailers in the integrated auto sales and finance segment of the used car market. With the passion and dedication of Car-Mart associates, the company has grown tremendously in 40 years.
Today, Car-Mart serves over 90,000 customers across 151 dealerships in 12 states. Plus, our 2000+ associates continue Bill’s mission of providing transportation solutions for customers.
Through the Years – Check out some Car-Mart flashbacks:
Here’s our founder, Bill Fleeman at our Car-Mart in Rogers. At this time, Car-Mart had 29 dealerships.
Here’s our Car-Mart Loan Arranger from the 1980s. He visited our Car-Mart communities in search of hard-working folks and to help them obtain flexible financing for affordable, quality used vehicles.
In August 1987, Car-Mart held what was probably the most talked-about event yet in the history of Car-Mart – the Wheel of Fortune. This customer appreciation event featured free food, free entertainment, and free money.
Yes, this was on one of our lots back in the 1990s. “Each lot had to come up with an idea for a promotion and then implement it. In 1993, in Rogers, we had a “Rockin’ in Rogers” promotion where we had bands play on Saturday nights and we gave prizes to customers who could bring the most friends,” says Brian McFarland, Area Operations Manager, with 28 years at Car-Mart.
Car-Mart once traded for an emu named Penelope and a 45-pound, 11-foot, 3-inch Burmese python named Stanley. Stanley was a down payment on a pickup, and a customer traded in a motorcycle for Stanley.
Here’s what a few associates say about Car-Mart’s 40 years:
“Car-Mart’s 40th anniversary means a lot to me. I grew up with this company. I am proud that I have been associated with the company for 33 years. I love the fact there are many people that were with Car-Mart when I began my career, and they are still with us or affiliated with us to this day. To me, that speaks volumes.” Brian Cole, General Manager, Russellville, Ark., with 33 years.
“It’s really cool. It’s hard to believe it’s already been 40 years. It’s awesome the company is still going strong, and it proves the values and the things that Car-Mart was created on and do are just as applicable today as they were 40 years ago—while still running a good solid business – you can do both.” Rick Musial, Vice President of Underwriting, Rogers, Ark., with 32 years.
“It’s awesome to see our company celebrate 40 years and to be a part of that for over half of that time. It’s a true testament to living our mission, vision and values that we have remained able to serve our loyal customers for that length of time.” Dustin Southard, Assistant Manager – Sales, Russellville, with over 25 years.
“Loyalty, passion and love run so deep for this amazing company they say some of us bleed blue, but it’s so much more than this. Those who truly live our mission, vision and values see our company not for what the company does for us, but what can we do for our company and all who it serves. Our culture truly drives us to serve others. Watch out world, CAR-MART is just getting started and the first 40 years were AWESOME!” Dustin Edwards, Sales Director, Rogers, Ark. with 19 years.
Here’s what a few customers say about Car-Mart’s milestone anniversary:
“We are very excited for Car-Mart to achieve their 40 years! Our favorite Car-Mart story is our most recent purchase of our Corolla. It went so smoothly and having our son there made it fun. He enjoyed talking to Jeremy and loved that Katherine let him pick out a snack cake.” Nicole Harris, Centerton, Ark.
“Good for Car-Mart! I’m so excited Car-Mart is turning 40. I’m also excited we have a place like Car-Mart that helps people. They help buyers who are strapped for cash and maybe have bad credit scores. They always want to make sure you’re okay.
“And, like the saying, ‘everything ages like fine wine,’ so has Car-Mart. They’ve done a superb job in enhancing their customer service, even during the pandemic. They are real people.” CC Rosencrans, Richland, Mo.
Thanks to all our customers for a wonderful 40 years. We are here because of you, and we look forward to helping you in the decades ahead.