Company News

Open & Shut: 4-16-2007

Introducing a digest of recent station and store openings, closings, new owners, more

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- Since the beginning of the year, many convenience stores or gas stations owned by small retailers have opened, closed or changed hands across the country.

While such small-scale industry activities seldom make headlines, their influence on their markets are no less important. Thus, CSP Daily News offers this first digest of recent business activity with the goal of providing subsequent updates on a regular basis.


The new owners of Rivermont Exxon in Rivermont, Va., will begin turning [image-nocss] the service station into a c-store this month, said The Lynchburg News & Advance, Lynchburg, Va.

Hunter's Mid-Town, West Salem, Wis., is getting out of the gasoline business, said the West Salem Coulee News. The pumps have been removed. Owner Dave Hundt, who took over the business about six years ago, said the decision was based on the level of competition among stations in the village. We're going to try to make it as a restaurant. Basically, that's where we were headed when we switched over to a restaurant, he said. No other immediate changes are planned for the business, which will still carry some c-store items, and the name will stay the same, he said.

Galva Holstein Ag has opened its second E-85 gas station in Northwest Iowa, in Ida Grove, said KTIV-TV.

Drivers on the Turner Turnpike from Oklahoma City to Tulsa will soon have to find a new place to fill up. Turnpike spokesperson Jack Damrill told the Associated Press that fuel service at the Wellston and Bristow service plazas will be shut down in late April. He said a private fuel company that has the contracts with the state to sell gasoline along the turnpike has decided not to renew its lease. He added the fuel plazas haven't performed well in recent years, and the company decided it wasn't making enough profit to keep the fuel service open.

A fast-food restaurant at both plazas will remain open, as will public restrooms.

The Salty Dog convenience store and Beach House Deli has opened in North Brunswick, N.C., said The Star-News. It is owned and operated by Marty and Janet Gilbert and Steve Lambrose. The deli offers sub sandwiches, barbecue and hot dog combos. It will also have a small breakfast menu.


Jim McClure, owner of MC's Country Store in Valley Center, Ark., has closed his gas station, but plans to open Mac's Snack Shack & Dog-Gone Good Pizza in Park City and Valley Center, said the Arkansas Valley News. McClure, who opened the station last fallthe third owner in less than three yearssaid he couldn't afford the overhead. I'm really disappointed about closing, he said. I feel like I made Valley Center a promise I couldn't keep. He said the roof has a leak and the air conditioning went out, and the landlord expected him to make the repairs. I just don't have 10 grand to pull out of my pocket to do that, he said. Both snack shops will sell candy, soda, chips, cigarettes and novelties, as well as carryout and delivery pizza.

A Bernalillo, N.M., c-store where a drunk driver bought beer before killing five people in a crash has closed, said The Albuquerque Tribune. The liquor license lease for the store expired February 28, and Charlie Williamson, who built the store, restaurant and gas station in 2003, said he couldn't afford to keep it open without selling liquor. "A $7-an-hour employee made a mistake, and a couple of beers is going to cost me $2 million," he said, adding he will be forced to file for bankruptcy if he can't find another tenant with a liquor license. Ever-Ready Oil Co., an Albuquerque gasoline distributor that leased the station and store, leased a liquor license from Giant Industries Inc., which said it plans to use the license again elsewhere.

Construction was slated to begin in April on a fuel center at a Kroger supermarket in South Charleston, W.Va., reported The Daily Mail. The fuel center will have five pumps and an attendant's booth that will carry some convenience items such as cigarettes and windshield washer fluid. Kroger offers a gasoline loyalty program.

Four Southern Oregon Shell stations are up and running again under a new operator. Carlsbad, Calif.-based American Retail Services has reopened Shell stations in Medford, Central Point and Grants Pass, said The Mail Tribune. The stations were among 16 that closed when Shell stopped delivering gasoline after the operator fell hundreds of thousands of dollars behind in payments, the report said. ARS now runs 104 Shell stations in Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington.

The Smith's grocery store chain is planning to open a gas station at one of its Santa Fe, N.M., locations by late April, The New Mexican reported. Customers will be able to get a fuel discount with a Smith's Fresh Values card.

John Robbins, owner of Verona, Miss.-based Robbins Oil Co., is planning to open a new convenience store and deli in Tupelo, Miss., reported The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. The store will be named Papa V's. It is expected to have several gasoline pumps and offer a variety of prepackaged and fresh food items.

The former Weir Street Gas in Taunton, Mass., is now under the ownership of Angela Butler, wife of Craig Butler, previously a mechanic at the station, said The Taunton Gazette. With the retirement of station owner Bobby Lambrou came an opportunity to buy, said the report. Branding has changed from Exxon to Gulf; the couple said the store will be carrying more candies and snacks, as well as lottery tickets. It also will continue to offer repairs and service.

Combs ARCO, a Scottsdale, Ariz., service station, has closed. Owner Mark Combs said he couldn't make a profit with the high rent and high wholesale prices that ARCO charged him as an independent dealer, reported The Arizona Republic. The station was the last ARCO in Arizona to operate a repair facility, he said. ARCO wants to raze the station and build an ampm c-store and gas station. Its application is pending at Scottsdale's planning and zoning department.

Exxon Mobil Corp., Houston, has closed two Mobil stations in Cape Coral, Fla.'s downtown, reported The News-Press. The company said such stations typically go up for sale. One station has a 1,488-sq.-ft. c-store and gasoline pump shelter building sitting on 30,873 square feet; the other has a 1,520-sq.-ft. store and pump shelter building on 26,975 square feet. The Community Redevelopment Agency said, Gas stations don't really make for a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere. We want offices, condominiums, restaurants and other people-friendly businesses.


Citing a saturated local market, G&G Oil has closed a Marathon station and Daily Grind coffee and snack shop in Muncie, Ind., said The Muncie Star Press. It's a great site, but Muncie's only so big, and it was performing less than our other stores, G&G's Shane Neal said. The business wasn't good for us, he added. Comparing it to our other stores, it did not have the volume. He said G&G is looking at other things we can do with the site, including selling it. G&G also sells gasoline at six Hoosier Pete stores in Muncie and one in Richmond, Ind.

Two Forest Park, Ill., White Hen Pantry stores shut down in February, said The Forest Park Review. Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. bought White Hen Pantry Inc., Lombard, Ill., in August 2006, acquiring more than 200 stores in the Chicago and Northwest Indiana area. Both Forest Park White Hens closed due to low sale volumes, and 7-Eleven said it has no plans for either property, since the chain already has two stores there.

A month after Gas USA shut its doors, the Elyria, Ohio, station re-opened under new management, said The Chronicle-Telegram. The station shut down in January, five months after its liquor license was revoked. A station attendant said the business closed while the management rights were transferred. The closure came after the station was embroiled in a controversy last fall when nearby residents and members of the South Elyria Neighborhood Development group fought to block renewal of its liquor license. They argued the station was a hub for crime and drug trafficking, exacerbated by alcohol sales. The Ohio Division of Liquor Control denied the license renewal.

The Town & Country Supply Cenex C-Store in Laurel, Mont., closed in late February for a raze and rebuild, said The Laurel Outlook. The fuel islands and canopy at the c-store will be left in place for use again after the store is rebuilt. But the other buildings, including the car wash, will be torn down to make way for a 2,200-sq.-ft. c-store and a 900-sq.-ft. casino, with a separate enterance, containing 20 gambling machines. Casino customers will be able to purchase beer and wine in the casino for onsite consumption.

A gas station in Memphis, Tenn., was sold in late February for $768,000, said The Memphis Daily News. Two Star Enterprise Inc. bought the property from Triple S Coastal #1 Inc. The .72-acre parcel has gasoline pumps and a 2,440-sq.-ft. c-store. Triple S Coastal bought the property from BancorpSouth Bank in 2004 for $725,000 and sold gasoline under a private-branded label.

The La J-Mart BP gas station/c-store in LaPorte, Ind., closed in late February, said The Herald Argus. It is with much displeasure that the owners announced the closing, said the report, citing a press statement. J-Mar Enterprises has leased the land upon which the building sits for the last 14 years. A little over a year ago, the new owners of Maple Lane Mall literally bought the land out from under La J-Mart from the previous landowner. La J-Mart owners recently received a letter stating they will be evicted in 30 days, after they had been told less than a month ago that the mall had no immediate plans and the lease would continue indefinitely.

Two Short Stop c-stores closed in mid-February in Emporia, Kansas, said The Emporia Gazette. The stores are owned by Leiszler Oil of Clay Center, Kansas. Allison Leiszler said, With volatile fuel prices and high credit card fees, some stores can't compete anymore. The stores were formerly part of the S&S chain. Leiszler Oil purchased and renamed the stores in January 2005, along with five others owned by S&S in Emporia, Lebo and Council Grove, Kansas. The other locations will remain open, Leiszler said.

Jim Allemann's closed his BX Express gas station in early February in Baxter Springs, Kansas, said The Joplin Globe. We're just not making any money, said Allemann. There are too many people competing for the same money. I'm not a chain, so I can't compete. He said the store has been in operation for more than 30 years, and he has owned it the past five years. Gas prices in Kansas are higher than they are in Missouri or Oklahoma, he said, noting residents often drive there for fuel. You can't compete on cigarette prices with the [Native American] smoke shops in Oklahoma, he said. Because Missouri voters did not approve an increase in the cigarette tax in November, he also couldn't compete with Missouri prices, he said. He added there were other factors that contributed to the decision to close. Baxter Springs is just a bedroom community, and most people either work or shop in Joplin, he said. It's just hard to make any money. Allemann said the store would be offered for lease.

An Exxon gas station in Parkton, Md., being monitored by state environmental officials for contamination closed unexpectedly in February, said The North Country News. It closed after there was an amicable, mutual termination of lease between Exxon and Patrick Meadowcroft, the station's operator, Exxonmobil spokesperson Paula Chen said. While gasoline contamination has been found in the Parkton station's supply well and in two monitoring wells, Chen said it did not play a part in the station's closing. If there are environmental issues, we'll handle it even though the station is closed, she said.

The building where Jim's Motor Mart once stood has reopened its doors under new owners and a new name, said The Albert Lea Tribune. At the start of January, Hollandale, Minn., resident Deb Tucker started up the c-store again, giving residents the chance to obtain simple grocery items and gasoline. The building had been empty for about a year. The store, now called Deb's, offers c-store items and may at some point serve pizzas and offer meats through Nick's Meats. It might also gain a small laundromat and have a pinball machine


Garth Barker, owner of the White Pine Gallery, Logan, Utah, turned his off his pumps in late January after more than 60 years, said the Associated Press. I think the in-town gas stations are doomed, he said, adding rising oil prices combined with regulation fees and a boom in grocery store stations make selling fuel unprofitable. I'm going to come out ahead. It costs me money to sell gas.... I probably should have stopped selling a year ago. The supermarkets sell 20 cents below my buying cost, Barker said. They just have more buying power and the little guys can't compete. Instead of selling gasoline, Barker said he will focus to other products and profit centers and will fall back on the propane business he runs out of the station.

The c-store once referred to as Tank n Tummy has reopened with new owners, said The Stevens Point Journal in Stevens Point, Wis. Renamed Swetz Roadside Convenience, the store opened in late January after nearly a month of being closed. Co-owner Helen Swetz said the store is less cluttered, has a new paint job and friendlier atmosphere, as well as additional features not seen before at the location. We're featuring a new coffee presentation, and we have a coffee club, she said, adding the store also features fresh fruit and a sale on overstock items.

Vernon and Kevin Hunter and Tom Pashko took possession of an old Co-op gas station in Codette, Saskatchewan, January 1 and opened for business on January 23, said The Nipawin Journal. It has a diagnostic technician and mechanic on site and do repairs on cars and snowmobiles. Both gasoline and diesel are available with fuel bought from Co-op. It will sell candy and groceries. Everything elsefrom food to fishing gearwill be made locally, the report said.

Brian and Michelle Nemeth have bought the former North Shore Service Center and BP station in North Fort Myers, Fla., where they plan to open a gasoline, convenience and produce store they'll call Lee Corners, said The News-Press. We're trying to stay out of the ordinary, Brian Nemeth said. We're going to try to cater to the local people, see what they want. He said they're aiming for a hometown feel and have applied for permits to allow them to sell fresh fruits and vegetables out front. They're renovating the 1,700-sq.-ft. building and installing 18 new pumps. They want to eventually expand the building to 2,000 square feet and add eight diesel pumps to cater to midsize construction industry vehicles, but not semis.

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