Holiday Stationstores + 1

Retailer picks up single Saver Stop unit

LA CRESCENT, Minn. -- Holiday Stationstores Inc. is purchasing the Saver Stop gasoline/convenience store in La Crescent, Minn., but plans to continue operating it as a Saver Stop, reported The LaCrosse (Wis.) Tribune.

Holiday is buying the business and the property for an undisclosed price from RNSS Marketers LLC, a local corporation that opened Saver Stop in February 2002, the report said.

The sale is scheduled to be completed Wednesday, Robert Nye, Holiday Stationstore's vice president of human resources, told the newspaper. [image-nocss] The store's eight employees will be offered jobs, he said.

No major changes are planned in the store's operation, he added. "Our customers will see Holiday [brand] products for sale in the store," Nye said.

Holiday Stationstores said it plans to keep the existing building as well as the Saver Stop name, Nye said. "That store has developed a great reputation in that community," he said. "We plan to continue to operate it as such." It will be Holiday's only Saver Stop store, said Nye.

Saver Stop will continue to be a price leader in the area, Nye said. "That's something we are reviewing, and we'll need to operate the business for awhile to assess it," he said of weekly newspaper coupons that offer a price discount of 4 cents a gallon. Nye added he thinks the coupons will continue for at least the near future.

Bloomington, Minn.-based Holiday Stationstores has been out of the La Crosse market since it closed a store in Onalaska, Wis., in late 2004. That store had opened in 1997. It closed its two La Crosse stores in 2003 and in early 2004. Nye said the company closed the three stores because "they simply didn't fit our economic model."

He said the difference between Minnesota and Wisconsin state gasoline taxes was a factor in buying the La Crescent location.

"This may point out how difficult that tax disparity is for Wisconsin retailers near the Minnesota and Iowa borders," Bob Bartlett, president of the Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, told the paper. Wisconsin's state gasoline tax is 32.9 cents per gallon, while Minnesota's is about 20.1 cents per gallon, he said.

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle said he will sign a gasoline tax provision into law that will lower the Wisconsin tax by 1 cent, effective May 1.

La Crescent Mayor Mike Poellinger said he was not surprised that Holiday Stationstores found the Saver Stop location attractive. "The gas business in La Crescent has been strong for a number of years because of the difference in the gas tax between the two states," he told the paper.