Gilbert’s Jeeps: Never Out Of Style

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

For close to 300 years, the Gilbert family has been part of the fabric of North Alabama, and since 1986, Grant Gilbert has been selling Jeeps to people for reasons that range from fun to function. His own love for Jeeps (which were originally manufactured by Willys during WWII) began as a result of driving one to take care of cattle all over his family farm as a kid. It was a 1948 model, and later Grant’s brother Joel bought one just for fun. Ever since Grant opened Gilbert’s Jeeps in West Limestone at 6494 US-72, they have been “selling fun,” and he doesn’t plan to quit anytime soon.

Now that decades have passed, Grant told me that he feels like the teacher that first taught a child, then that child’s child, and now the grandchildren. Repeat customers that also comprise generations in the same family are part of the legacy of Gilbert’s Jeeps and a source of great joy.

Gilbert’s Jeeps had its own set of challenges during COVID just like everyone else. Getting good inventory and dealing with supply-chain issues were at times daunting, but as is always the case with hard times, good came out of it. Because of how selective Gilbert’s Jeeps has to be, especially when it comes to rust, often it became necessary for Grant to travel all over America so he could personally inspect a unit to make sure it was up to their standards before purchasing it for re-sale. This made for some wonderful road trips, and often his wife, Mitzi, was able to go with him. In fact, they spent their 40th wedding anniversary in Lake Tahoe with Grant purchasing a Jeep, having it delivered to the hotel, driving it back home, and selling it to a doctor in Decatur when they got back.

Grant has gone coast-to-coast finding product, and currently strives to keep about 30 units on the lot. He finds that customers are more satisfied when they feel they have plenty of Jeeps from which to choose. “For some, a Jeep is what they call a ‘pretty day driver,’ more like a toy. For others it is their car, period. What I always ask buyers at the point of sale is that if the time ever comes that they are no longer in need of their Jeep, that they would consider selling it back to me first,” said Grant. To date, Gilbert’s Jeeps has bought and sold nearly 40 Jeeps that have been re-sold a total of three times. “Sometimes people’s needs change, and it is so good to be able to help them and then make it possible for someone else to have a Jeep that has been kept in excellent condition,” Grant added.

Any excellent business person knows the importance of forming and maintaining solid relationships with the customers. Sometimes that becomes a deep friendship which is one of the many things that serve to make being in business worth it, especially when there are such frustrating things that business people face on a daily basis. It brings joy to Grant’s heart that they have 30 customers who are “Jeepers” that are over the age of 80! Recently, a long-term customer who is 85 years young had to reluctantly sell back to Grant the Jeep happily purchased 15 years ago. The man lives in Tennessee, and Grant went to his home to pick up the man’s “baby.” The customer also had a surprise, which were gifts for Grant that would be what you would give to a family member, and it was an emotional moment. It may be a Jeep that was the “vehicle,” but the reality is that it was all about the relationship. That is the kind of care that a customer receives at Gilbert’s Jeeps, and going the extra mile has given them staying power in uncertain times.

Gilbert’s Jeeps also has a few RVs on the lot, and they have had a blast using those RVs from time to time to go on grand-kiddo trips. The RV units are gorgeous, and I never cease to be amazed at the creativity that goes into the design and the comfort that is produced. One grand-kiddo has laid claim to the bunk that is over the driver’s seat, and the memories that have been made will last a lifetime.

In wrapping up our time together, Grant told me a saying that one of his guys came up with that is the perfect call-to-action: “Come buy at Gilbert’s, where you leave with a smile and a full tank of gas. We sell fun.” Find out for yourself and stop by today!

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner