Company News

Open & Shut: 2-7-2011

The where, when and why behind recent station, store openings, closings nationwide

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- "Open & Shut" is an occasional digest of some of the many new-store openings, closures and sales taking place around the nation by convenience and gasoline retailers small, medium and large that have not otherwise been reported in CSP Daily News.

Especially on the independent operator level, this recurring feature provides a snapshot of the frequently changing retail marketplace that includes such outlets as convenience stores, gas stations, truckstops, travel centers and related locations. It also offers a glimpse into the strategies and retail philosophies behind the openings, the reasons behind the closures and the new ideas operators are trying out in the marketplace.


Owner Ahmed Aly closed Pine Cove Market & Gas at the end of January, said The Idyllwild Town Crier. Aly said that shortly after he took over the business in June, Riverside County Code Enforcement personnel told him that planning permits for all the businesses on the property--the market, gas station and now defunct mechanic shop--were never obtained by the landlord, Howard Friedman. Aly said that although he is willing to share the estimated $14,000 cost of obtaining the needed permits with the landlord, Friedman has refused to discuss the situation. Aly said he cannot afford to bear the burden alone. "The community will lose a convenience store and four employees will lose their jobs," Aly said.

Discount grocery store Foods Co began offering discount gasoline at a new station in central Fresno on January 26, reported KFSN-TV. The 10-pump Foods Co Fuel Center also offers other products found at most c-stores like drinks, snacks and car products.


A new Murphy Express Store with drive-thru is under construction in Pace, scheduled to open on February 14, the company said on Facebook.

The couple who owns Kellie's Minit Stop retired in early February, said The Gainesville Sun. Edna and Roy Hogue have been greeting locals and travelers at Kellie's Minit Stop in Hawthorne since 1975. Roy, 69, said they were supposed to replace their gasoline tanks with double-walled tanks last year, but he figured it would take another 10 years to make up the $170,000 expense, "so I thought it was a good time to hang it up." They dropped Texaco gasoline a year ago. Without fuel, sales of drinks, candy, live bait, cigarettes, ice cream, phone cards and other merchandise dropped 40%. The economy was already hurting business since many customers are out of work, he said. Then state and federal taxes added another $1.68 to a pack of cigarettes.


The "out-of-gas" warning signs came down along the Jekyll Island causeway on January 28 as a new Flash Foods opened on the island, replacing the sole gasoline station that closed more than a year ago, said The Florida Times-Union. Jekyll Island closed the station and had it torn down about 15 months ago. And it was last year that the authority shut down and razed its strip shopping center where Flash Foods had run the only c-store.

Sharon Haney is back in the c-store business with Virgil's Market in Rome, said The Rome News-Tribune. The Haney family ran the market for two decades, before leasing it for a couple of years. The leasee gave up the business last summer at the shop sat vacant from September until the end of December before Haney decided to re-open it herself.


Casey's General Stores Inc. opened a new location in Milledgeville in late January, it said on Twitter.

Casey's General Stores Inc. celebrated the grand opening of a new store in Bourbonnais on January 29, said The Daily Journal. The c-store and gas station will be open 24 hours, which is new for Casey's. The Bourbonnais store uses the company's new design.


Gerry and Mike Laycock of Country Porch Convenience Stores opened their seventh location on November 30, 2010, Robert Novak, vice president of International Business Brokwers, Lafayette, told CSP Daily News. Their purchase of a 2,400-sq.-ft. store is their second location in Linton.


Kapy's Convenience and Conoco gas station reopened under new management February 1, reported The Topeka Capital-Journal.


One of two E-Z Shop stations in Providence closed on January 31, owners of the gas station chain announced. Owner Mary Anne Gonnella told The Journal Enterprise the decision to close the business was partly because of its age. "It needs newer pumps, but 'pay-at-the-pump' pumps are expensive," she said. She hopes to find someone who will lease or rent the facility for business use. Another factor in the decision is a plan to build a new station elsewhere in Webster County, most likely Sebree, where the family owns property.


Stephen "Pinky" Mason has sold his Sunoco station in Westborough, said Wicked Local Westborough. His last day was January 31. "It happened so quick," said Mason. "I just couldn't meet what they were looking for." He opened the gas station 15 years ago and rented the property from a private owner, but with the turn in the economy, realized he could not keep up with demands. He said by December a new owner had stepped forward, and he was given a month to move out. He said most of his regular customers were mothers and elderly people who took advantage of his personalized services. He also offered free air and a full repair garage.

In mid-January, Linear Retail Properties LLC purchased a 3,246-sq.ft. single-story retail building located in the heart of the historic Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston, said The New England Real Estate Journal, for $4.1 million. The building is located at the signalized intersection locally known as the "Flat of the Hill." It was constructed in 1951 and for the last 20 years operated as a 7-Eleven store. 7-Eleven sold the property to Linear Retail and the store has been converted into an independently run c-store named Charles Street Market.


A new luxury student housing complex in College Park, The Varsity, announced on January 20 that Royal Farms will open a c-store in the street level of the building, the chain's first in the area. The store will be open 24-hours and will offer takeout breakfast sandwiches, subs, wraps and fresh brewed coffee. The store will also feature Royal Farms signature takeout chicken. "We thought this was a great opportunity to have a presence on a college campus," said Ed Stronski, spokesperson for Royal Farms. Both The Varsity and the Royal Farms store will open in August 2011.


Friedman Real Estate Group Inc. recently negotiated a number of property sales and leases, including a gas station in Lake Orion. F & K Lake Orion Properties LLC sold the property to The Kroger Co, which will open a Kroger-branded gas station, said The Oakland Press.

7-Eleven will open its second location in downtown Ann Arbor in April, said AnnArbor.com. The chain signed a deal in January for a 3,000-sq.-ft. store. The new store will serve both the University of Michigan campus and the nearby residential neighborhood. The location fits the 7-Eleven business model because it offers the potential for high-traffic business in an underserved retail area, said Jim Chaconas of Colliers International, who represented both the retailer and the building owner in the transaction. The property is owned by DKH Exchange.

The owner of the closed gas station in Ann Arbor plans renovations to the building and expects to reopen this spring, reported AnnArbor.com. The former Packard Mini Mart has been wrapped in yellow "caution" tape since it was sold this fall in Washtenaw County's tax foreclosure auction. The new owners are Davuluri Brothers Inc. They paid $288,500 for the property, according to city records.

A BP station across from the former Packard Mini Mart in Ann Arbor closed in mid-January, said AnnArbor.com. Early signs of change came before Thanksgiving when the store stopped accepting credit cards. Balloons were added to the property, drawing drivers' attention to the "going out of business" sign. The business is operated by Big M Fuel LLC BP.

New owner of a foreclosed Ann Arbor gas station started renovations in January, said AnnArbor.com. Mark Yaldo bought the former Washtenaw Mini Mart property after it closed following a lender foreclosure. He plans to reopen under the Marathon brand by mid-summer after multiple building upgrades. Renovations started early this month, with crews preparing to transform the former repair bays into a c-store. Interior changes will include adding higher ceilings to the 1,450-sq.-ft. retail space and a University of Michigan-themed decor. The exterior will get a new brick facade . He envisions operating a green fuel center, adding E85 fuel to the traditional fuel lineup. He expects more flex-fuel options to be added as new technologies reach the U.S. market. The property sold for $350,000, compared to its assessed value of $585,400.

A remodeled Speedway reopened recently in Ann Arbor, said AnnArbor.com. The owner of a CITGO station has applied to expand that station, too; a new Kroger gas station is also slated to open soon.

Spartan Stores opened its25th fuel center in Fenton in October under the VGs banner, the company told CSP Daily News. The 1,100-sq.ft. prototype has been updated inside, and under the canopy there will be four blender dispensers, including one with diesel.


Casey's General Stores Inc. opened a new location in Mantorville on February 1, the company said on Facebook.


Casey's General Stores Inc. opened a new store in Grand Island, reported The Grand Island Independent. The store celebrated its grand opening February 4 after a soft opening the day before. Store manager Cara Luebbe said the store has 16 employees and that number could get up to 20. There will be two assistant managers and six to eight full-time employees with benefits. The store will offer fresh sub sandwiches, pizzas, breakfast and regular pizza all day, fresh salads, pita wraps and doughnuts, made in the store.

New Hampshire

The former North Street Market in Keene is now K&S Convenience, but still serves sandwiches made to order, said The Keene Sentinel.

New Jersey

Wawa has opened a new store in Middletown, reported The Asbury Park Press.
The new store features 4,600 square feet of retail space, with a full service deli and bakery and gasoline facilities.

New Mexico

A Circle K Shell station in Tucumcari closed in January, said The Quay County Sun.

New York

The Sunoco gasoline station in Watertown will be razed and replaced in this spring, The Watertown Daily Times said. Atlantic Refining & Marketing Corp., a gasoline distributor that owns 550 of the 4,500 Sunoco stations, has asked to move the building farther away from the road to allow parking in front of the building. "They are getting rid of the car wash. Though the size of the building is only increasing by 24 square feet, it really increases the size of retail space." The canopy over the gasoline pumps will remain as-is, he said, but the pumps will be replaced. A diesel tank will be added on new pavement at the west end of the lot. The pumps will be closed during the three- to four-month construction period, spokesperson Joe McGinn said.

Bob Wischart, who manages a c-store and former Mobil station in Syracuse, told WSYR-TV that his facility has changed from Mobil to Sunoco.

A new Stewart's Shop opened in Warrensburg on January, the company said on Facebook.

A Shop24 automated c-store opened January 28 on the campus of SUNY Cortland. It stands nine feet high, is 13.5 feet wide and 10 feet deep and occupies space in front of Neubig Hall in the heart of campus. The store can dispense items ranging from 1 ounce to 8 pounds and will carry about 175 items. The project is a partnership between the College's Auxiliary Services Corporation (ASC) and Shop24. The Shop24 series of products are self-contained, unmanned retail stores designed to capitalize on the gap between staffed c-stores and traditional vending machines. It will carry a variety of foods and beverages as well as several nonfood items that students use on a daily basis. It accepts cash, credit cards and campus Connections cards.

North Carolina

After sitting dormant for several years, a new c-store and gas station--Water Works Grocery, Bait & Tackle--opened in December near Lake Reidsville, said GoDanRiver.com. The store has been given a facelift with new floors and rock-patterned walls. It offers 24/7 pay-at-the-pump gasoline and free air pumps outside. Inside the store is an ATM, as well as free popcorn and free coffee for customers. When spring gets closer, the store will also offer bait and tackle, said store manager Christina Gionelli.

Sparky's Marketplace, a new gas station, c-store and car wash being developed by Hill Oil Co., will open in April, said The Dispatch. It will offer E85 and either E30 or E15, as well as two grades of biodiesel fuel, B5 and B20, in addition to regular Gulf-brand gasoline. It is part of a larger Alternative Fuel/Advanced Vehicle Technology project administered by the N.C. Solar Center's Clean Transportation Program with funding from the N.C. Department of Commerce State Energy Division. The 15-month, $500,000 initiative is funded through the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act to jumpstart six clean transportation projects around the state. Sparky's was one of two projects that includes the development of alternative fuel stations.

North Dakota

A new Love's Travel Stop & Country Store opened in Fargo on November 18, reported INFORUM. According to company spokesperson Jenny Love Meyer, the new location is different from most Love's stores, which are located on east-west interstates, and this is the first on I-29, she said. The site also features a McDonald's and Subway.


The Friendship Sunoco station in Port Clinton was sold February 1, Dennis Peters, a manager at Fremont-based Beck Suppliers Inc., which sold the business, told The Port Clinton News Herald. It closed for the day. The sale of the gas station and food store will not include the adjacent car wash, Peters said. "But we're still going to promote the pair together." He said the station will continue selling gasoline, diesel fuel and kerosene. Beck Suppliers operates about 20 food stores and gas stations in northwest Ohio. It also operates a large propane, heating oil and petroleum lubricants and chemicals business in the region.


A BP gas station on 2.2 acres in Hampton has been sold by Franchise USA LLC to Von Ulrig Inc., Miami, for $2.17 million, according to a deed filed in Allegheny County cited by The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Franchise USA purchased the property from BP Exploration & Oil Inc. in 2007.

A Harrisburg gas station is back open a year-and-a-half after a suspicious fire burned it down, reported WHTM-TV.

In late November, Rutter's Farm Stores broke ground for a 5,200-sq.-ft. store in Greene Township, Franklin County. The 24-hour store will create 40 jobs when it opens this spring. It will be Rutter's fourth store in the county and 57th in the state. It will have six gasoline fueling positions, kerosene and diesel. Dedicated truck diesel fueling will be available behind the store. It will feature a glass, two-bay automatic carwash. The store's "green" attributes will include LED exterior lighting, skylights, computerized energy and light management and a white reflective roof. The store will have hands-free entrance doors, touch-free restrooms, seven HD TVs and a seating area for 14. Touchscreen ordering will provide access to Rutter's fresh-food menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The beverage menu will offer six flavors of frozen beverages, 16 flavors of fountain drinks, two self-serve milkshake machines and a coffee island. It will also offer a surcharge-free M&T Bank ATM and Blockbuster DVD rental kiosk.

South Carolina

A new Zoomz c-store/gas Station in Lexington opened for business in November, the company told CSP Daily News. It features six gasoline dispensers and it will be branded BP. Customers can choose from a variety of cold beverages, grocery, diary, beer,
wine, healthy and beauty products. Additional services include South Carolina Educational Lottery, ATM, money orders, propane and variety of products.


Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Memphis C-Store LLC has bought a c-store near Memphis from Boonie R. Cranford for $1.7 million, reported The Memphis Daily News. The purchase was financed with a $1.7 million loan through Fidelity Bank that matures in November 2035. The building is a 4,080-sq.-ft. store built in 2006. It sits on 4.7 acres in unincorporated Shelby County. The seller bought the then-vacant property in September 2005 for $275,000, according to sale documents filed with the Shelby County Register of Deeds. The Shelby County Assessor of Property's 2010 appraisal was $757,300.

Although the Henpeck Market, an eatery, gas station and gifts shop in Franklin, closed in late January, said The Tennessean. New owner Carl Moore, who bought the foreclosed property at auction on January 28, promises to keep much of what made the destination popular among tourists and locals. "We plan to keep it exactly as it was as a local landmark. We're not changing that. But we'll make it new and improved," he said. He is planning to reopen the Henpeck Village Market in early March. Improvements include redoing the floors and ceilings, adding a patio and TVs, putting in an old-fashioned ice cream and soda fountain and setting up an in-store pharmacy. The deli station and eatery will remain, but the new owner is considering the addition of a brick oven for pizzas.


A new Toot N Totum opened in Amarillo in late January, said ConnectAmarillo.com.


A closed BP station in Colleen reopened on January 1, said The Nelson County Times. The roadside business has reopened under the new ownership of Sridevi Tiwari and a group of investors who purchased the business and property last August. One whole side of the station store has a new commercial kitchen and full-service deli, with sandwiches and burgers made by local cook, Bobby Jean Henderson of Shipman. "We have a deli over there at the Corner Market gas station and...people...don't want to go into a restaurant and sit down and eat all the time," Tiwari said. "They just want to pack up their food and take it and go. Especially the passing crowd, like truckers." Soon, Tiwari said they will be adding more to their menu and including Mexican special nights. While the gas station carries regular fare, like milk, cigarettes, soda, bread and lottery tickets, Tiwari has also added a small hardware section and ammunition for hunters. "We all need duct tape or little things all the time," she said. "And based on customer needs, if we have a really good amount of customers looking for something, we'll add it."

Campus Exxon in Blacksburg is being remodeled, turning the garage into a 24/7 food store, said The Collegiate Times. John Newton, of PMI Management Services, said the location will be completely rebranded. The station will become a Shell, adding diesel fuel and Kroger's discount program, and the inside will become a Stop In Food Store. "We're going to offer a lot of varieties of food 24 hours a day," he said. The menu will include foods such as breakfast biscuits, sandwiches and wraps, pulled pork sandwiches and salads, as well as coffee, cappuccinos and slushies. He said the store is looking to partner with local businesses to expand its options. It has already made an agreement to sell Carol Lee Donuts, and is seeking a partnership to sell Hokie merchandise. He said the goal is to fill a gap not covered by other restaurants and c-stores. "We're trying to get engaged with the students," he said. "We plan to have events for the students, like a hot dog eating contest." The remodel will also include a walk-in refrigerator, called the Beer Cave, with a variety of beers. The alcohol selection will also include wine and kegs. He said he expected the location to open by mid-March.

Both 7-Elevens in Courtland and the one in Franklin are moving from corporate to individual ownership, said The Tidewater News. Alfran Gary, who is a corporate store manager, will take over the Cortland store on February 17, said 7-Eleven franchise sales manager Ron Bernal. "I've actually sold the other Courtland store, but that probably won't change over until April," he said. Linda Artis, a corporate assistant store manager for 7-Eleven, purchased that store. Nora Ponter purchased the Franklin store, which will change hands in February.

Cloud 9 Convenience LLC is planning to open a drive-thru c-store in Virginia Beach, the company said on Twitter in December. Cloud 9 offers an array of products ranging from everyday food necessities, tobacco products, beer, and ice along with many other products. Cloud 9 eliminates the process of parking, and getting in and out of the car while processing and delivering customer's orders in a fast, efficient method, it said on its website.


After being open for more than 30 years, a 7-Eleven in Wallingford closed on February 1, said The North Seattle-Herald Outlook. Even though the c-store chain has a strong presence throughout the area, the location was not profitable enough to stay open. "It was low-volume, and the lease was coming up for renewal, so we made a business decision to not renew the lease," said company spokesperson Margaret Chabris.

Please send your store openings and related announcements to Greg Lindenberg at glindenberg@cspnet.com,www.twitter.com/glcspdn or www.facebook.com/glcspdn.

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