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Sherm’s Auto: used, but not used up

New dealership filling a need for more affordable transportation
Steve Sherman is the owner of Sherm’s Auto, a used car dealership now open in North Liberty at 315 W. Cherry Street, Ste. 1. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

NORTH LIBERTY– In the United States of America, it’s a basic fact of life: “Everybody needs a vehicle.” So said Steve Sherman, owner of Sherm’s Auto in North Liberty.
The author, former business owner, steel building dealer and recent candidate for the Iowa State House, opened the doors to Sherm’s in mid-December on a quest to bring quality used cars to people at an affordable price. While used cars and trucks are plentiful, most are in the $12,000-$15,000 price range; far above what many people can, or want to, afford, Sherman feels; for example, a parent looking for a first car for their son or daughter, or somebody looking for basic transportation to get to and from their job.
“Very few dealers are selling cars for less than $10,000. The economy isn’t doing good, and a lot of people don’t want to spend a lot of money.”
To fill the void, Sherman specifically looks for cars, trucks, vans and SUVs that he can sell for just a few thousand dollars. The vehicles he finds aren’t new. While they are used, Sherman said, they aren’t used up, and still have a lot of life left in them. His stock, which changes almost daily, comes from the large weekly vehicle auction in Mount Vernon, local dealers and even private sales.
The common denominator is they are all solid vehicles a person can expect to drive for at least two to three years, and at a price they can afford. All of Sherm’s offerings are inspected, minor repairs are made, and then they are thoroughly detailed. They are sold “as-is” without a warranty, but Sherman said he makes it a point to ensure the customer knows of any problems with a vehicle.
“Some cars have a check engine light that comes on, and often that’s related to a sensor. We’ll hook it up to a diagnostic computer and find out what it is. If we can, we’ll reset it, replace the sensor or make other small repairs. They’re used cars, but they’re not worn out.”
Sherman said people are generally willing to overlook little dings or minor repairs, some of which they can fix fairly easily and inexpensively.
“I keep it honest and open, and we’ll fix the little stuff.”
Opening the dealership starts a new chapter in the life of the Sherman family.
Sherman’s wife Amy handles the bookkeeping, and he plans to have his four kids involved in tasks such as washing and detailing the vehicles.
“This is the first business I’ve had in several years with more of a retail feel to it, and with regular hours,” said Sherman. “I’m very excited to finally have a family owned and operated business.”
For now, Sherman said he has guarded optimism as to how the venture will go, but added he is providing a need and a service while, “putting the roots down in North Liberty even deeper after living here for 18 years.
“It’s a product everyone needs, so I don’t necessarily have to go out and create a market. People are looking for something affordable, and we’re filling that niche.”
A desire to serve the community prompted his run for the State House, and drives his business, which he models after a close friend’s dealership in Ottumwa. “I think opening a new business is even more patriotic than running for office,” he said with a smile. “It’s exciting, it’s fun. It’s good to have cars out there (on the lot and ready for buyers). We’re just going to try and sell cheap– but good– cars. Price is important, but so is quality.”
Sherman also sees the business as a means to give a little something back to the community. He is in the early stages of planning ways to help people in need, whether partnering with a service organization or something more direct.
In the meantime, Sherman is launching his first promotional event to coincide with his grand opening: a free three-day trip to Vegas, or your choice of 11 Hotels (not all in Vegas), and a buy-one-get-one-free for airfare with the purchase of any vehicle.”
Sherm’s Auto is located at 315 W. Cherry St., Ste. 1, across and slightly east from the City’s Recreation Center and pool complex. Phone 319-665-2252 or go to www.shermsauto.com for his website with information on the current inventory. Sherm’s is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ShermsAuto with frequent updates as new stock rolls in.
With the sun setting behind his recently paved lot, Sherman spread his arms, smiled and said, “Where can you go to get a $2,000 car or truck to get to work? Right here.”