Roman and Sherry Althoff try to promote the idea of “know your auto dealer and know what they offer” when they sell used cars and trucks.
The Althoffs, owners of Althoff Auto Sales in El Dorado Springs, are quintessential examples of small-town auto dealers. They are a small business with a small inventory, very little overhead, and they do virtually all the work themselves.
Roman tries to negotiate fair deals with his customers, cautioning against deals which might have lower monthly payments but end with a large balloon payment.
“I talked to people six, seven years ago and they said, ‘I can buy a new one cheaper than that,” and I said, ‘No, you can’t. You’ve got to read the contract.’ Now, 84 months later, they’ve got the vehicle but they didn’t realize they also bought a balloon.”
Roman established the company in January 1996 after a career in over-the-road trucking. Roman buys and prepares the vehicles in their shop while Sherry, his wife of 19 years, takes care of online sales.
“It’s him, I and the dog,” Sherry said, referring to their Great Pyrenees/Lab mix named Huz.
The Althoffs say they have had plenty of repeat business despite dealing with other economic struggles. Thanks to their website, althoffautosales.com, they have made sales to customers far and wide.
“The internet is where it’s at,” Sherry said. “If the customer finds it warrants making the trip here, they will.”
“It’s crazy,” Roman added. “Here this guy shows up with a truck and trailer to pick up this vehicle sight unseen to Arkansas or Minnesota or somewhere far away.”
“Then they’ll say, what’s wrong with it?” Sherry said. “They say they’ve been looking for this vehicle while insinuating the price [we offer] is too low.”
Roman said he tends to keep late-model vehicles in stock because customers can more easily procure loans on newer cars from banks and other lending institutions.
He tries to avoid buying government vehicles because they tend not to have public repair histories available.
Besides selling cars, the Althoffs often sponsor youth activities in the El Dorado Springs and Sherry is active with the local VFW chapter.
Althoff Auto Sales is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-noon Saturday at 1703 S. Mo. 32, El Dorado Springs. The phone number is (417) 876-2591.