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Longtime Car Dealer Bruce Cavenaugh Sells Market St. Property, Retires

By Cece Nunn, posted Apr 29, 2021
DriveTime will replace Bruce Cavenaugh's Automart on Market Street in Wilmington. (Photo by Cece Nunn)

Longtime Wilmington car dealer Bruce Cavenaugh recently sold his Market Street property to national firm DriveTime and is retiring from the business.

Cavenaugh, a Wilmington native who will be 70 in August, started selling cars in the Port City in 1973, he said, starting his own business in 1990.

In the midst of the Great Recession, Cavenaugh shut down his dealership for six months in 2009 before reopening.

Of his time leading Bruce Cavenaugh’s AutoMart, 6321 Market St., Cavenaugh said, “I just enjoyed the people a lot. You get to meet the complete spectrum of people.”

At its peak around 2006, Cavenaugh’s business had 105 employees but was down to just four this week as they prepared the 4,400-square-foot building on the Market Street property for its new owners to take over Friday. All the cars Cavenaugh had have been sold.

“It’s actually the best I’ve ever seen it really,” Cavenaugh said of the current demand for used cars. “The reason is because the manufacturing had to slow down the production of new cars [because of COVID-19]. It was real easy for me to sell all my inventory and get to retire.”

Part of his plan for retirement is to play golf and travel.

“My wife [Alice] and I have been married 49 years, and we plan on traveling some,” he said.

DriveTime, a used car seller based in Arizona, is expected to add 11,000 square feet to the existing building at 6321 Market St., said Kevin Jankunas, director of real estate for DriveTime, which has 127 dealerships across the U.S.

Company officials are looking at a potential August or September opening

DriveTime bought the property from the Cavenaughs on April 19 for $2.3 million, according to property tax records.

Peter Vinal of Wilmington-based Vinal Realty represented the Cavenaughs in the transaction while Jake Brewer of SmartSite Commercial Real Estate out of Knoxville, Tennessee, represented DriveTime.

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