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Open & Shut: 9-28-2009

More c-store, station openings, closings, sales and more from around the nation

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- Once again, CSP Daily News is offering this update on many of the new-store groundbreakings, raze and rebuilds, openings, reopenings, rebrandings, closures and sales announced around the country by chains small, medium and large, and which have not otherwise been reported on a day-to-day basis. Especially on the independent operator level, this recurring feature provides a regular snapshot of the constantly changing retail marketplace that includes such outlets as convenience stores, gas stations, truckstops, travel centers and related locations.

While the recession has been a burden on many c-store and station owners and operators, surprisingly, based on an informal analysis of CSP Daily News' "Open & Shut" roundup, there have been fewer closings that might be expected; however, new-store openings do not seemed to have slowed down because of the bad economy. Of course, the stores listed here are only a portion of the total number of new and closed stores from around the nation.

California

Zigman/Shields General Contractors has recently completed the ground-up construction of the Terra Nova Service Station in Chula Vista, said The Daily Transcript. The project consisted of an entire demolition of the existing Shell station and c-store, including the fuel dispenser islands. The 9,000-square-foot facility will now be a newly designed independent station with a reconstructed fuel dispenser island; 2,600-square-foot c-store; a new 90-foot car wash; and significant site improvements. The $1.8 million project took eight months to complete. Malek Engineers of San Diego designed the project.

TMC Development, a certified development company providing Small Business Administration (SBA) loans in California and Nevada, has announced the closing of a $1.1 million real-estate purchase for Mansa LLC dba Kwikee Mart, a Napa, Calif.-based c-store. Owner Satindar Dhillon obtained an SBA 504 loan from TMC Development to purchase the acquisition of a 3,464-square-foot building.

Delaware

Wawa, Pa.-based Wawa Inc. opened a store in Wilmington on August 7, the company said on its website.

District of Columbia

A BP station has been rebranded as a W Express, according to WeloveDC.com. Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Properties LLC is the parent company of the Washingtonian Cafe & C-Store and the W-Express Gas & Go private brand of gasoline.

Florida

The former Chuck's Whiskey Creek Service station, which closed after business slowed during the summer and owner Chuck Fundermark lost the property to foreclosure in June, is reopening, said The News-Press. New owner Franklin Mulvihill has already begun servicing vehicles in the garage, although the Fort Myers station is not officially open. It will be renamed Whiskey Creek Service, with the separately owned c-store to be called Whiskey Creek Beverage. Mulvihill said the station should be officially open by October 1.

A Fort Myers Beach station in business for more than 30 years was shutdown in early September. In a surprise move, gasoline was sucked from the pumps, items were snatched from the shelves and the front door was padlocked at the Sunoco station, reported WBBH-TV. Deputies with the Lee County Sheriff's Office said they were enforcing the court order. "They told me I have a court ordertook all my merchandise and all my gas because you owe the gas company," said station owner Raj Faraj. Officials said Faraj owes Edison Oil Co. $130,000 for gasoline. He said he didn't know that he owed them.

The Hicks Service Center, which opened in 1969, will stop selling fuel at the end of September, said TCPalm.com. The repair shop will remain open, but the gasoline pumps will be removed in October. The station was affiliated with Phillips 66 until the early 1990s. Since then, it's been an independent. It is closing because of new state regulations that require double-lined storage tanks. Gas stations have until the end of the year to comply. The owners estimate it would cost at least $300,000 to replace the tanks. Scott Hicks, who took over the day-to-day operations from his father, Roger, four years ago, said he thought putting in new tanks. But he realized he can't justify it financially, given their level of business. Inside the station, next to the refrigerator, are four lawn chairs. They are set up facing each other, and they are full a half-dozen times a day, Scott said. "They have the longest fill-up you've ever seen," he said. "They'll spend an hour here."

One of the oldest minority-owned businesses in the state of Florid has closed. Elmore Bryant has closed Marianna BP after 50 years in business, reported WJHG-TV. He bought the station at a discount in 1957, making it the first station in the neighborhood during the days of racial segregation. "This BP gas station became so much more than just a business. Elmore Bryant used it as a platform to help the community. He often gave money to customers to help them feed their families or pay their bills," said the report. Bryant said, I've bought everything from baby diapers to paid light bills, water bills, I've shared what we had here."

Georgia

QuikTrip opened a new store in its Atlanta division in mid-September, company spokesperson Mike Thornrugh told CSP Daily News. The new store is located in Cumming, Ga. It is a 4,600-square-foot store with 10 multi-pump dispensers for 20 car service. This is the 117th QuikTrip location in Atlanta.

After more than 20 years, Berryman's Service Station in Madison shut its doors on July 15, said The Morgan County Citizen. Owner David Berryman had a stake in the station for 29 years, and was sole owner for 22 years. The closing forced four people, including Berryman, out of work. Willis Oil Co., Griffin, owns the land and station. "They wanted more money to stay open," Berryman said. "We couldn't agree on each other's figures." Kim Willis, owner and CEO of Willis Oil, said the station was not profitable enough to keep open. The company is hoping to re-invent the space. "There's not a lot of profit in gas," Willis said. "We're looking for new ideas that would bring more profits out of the building and out of the bay area." Willis said he is considering an open-air market with a gas station. "We haven't made any decisions or approached the city," Willis said. "It's in the Historic District, so we would want something that's good for the city, good for the Historic District... We would like to continue selling gas there; we're trying to be creative."

Hawaii

The 76 Gas Station, owned by Mid Pac Petroleum, will begin remodeling in October and reopen in December as part of renovations under way at Aina Haina Shopping Center for the first time in at least 50 years, reported The Star Bulletin.

Illinois

A new 7-Eleven opened in Bolingbrook over the weekend, reported The Bolingbrook Sun. The two-day grand opening event included local radio hosts, a DJ, lottery prizes, food specials and free energy drinks.Rockford-based Road Ranger LLC opened a new Road Ranger location in Carpentersville on August 13, the company said on Twitter.After 15 years, John Ketchen is selling John's Qwik Stop in Urbana to Casey's General Stores. While Ketchen owns other stores, this is the only location that is being sold, reported The Vinton Eagle. Ketchen purchased the business in 1995 from John and Bev Anderson. The original John's was located in town, but after the interstate was completed in the 1980s, the Andersons built the store at the current location. The transition will occur in October. The location will maintain the 24 hour operating schedule when it reopens.

An idle gas station in Beach Park will reopen as a CITGO station. Village administrator Ken Lopez told The News-Sun the former Marathon station fell into foreclosure under the former owners. The new owner is Emmanuel "Manny" Joseph of Chicago. Joseph said he bought the station site several weeks ago. Renovation is under way, and he plans to open the station at the end of October. It will include a c- store licensed to sell lottery tickets. He said he would like to eventually sell beer and wine. Plans also include a car wash.

Iowa

The Dows Junction travel center opened for business in late June, reported The Mason City Globe. It has 10 gasoline pumps and five diesel pumps. The c-store features groceries, coffee, novelty gifts and accessories truckers might need, such as power convertors. Arby's and Godfather's Pizza are also located in the travel center. Three big-screen TVs, hooked up to satellite, are located throughout the travel center. A grand opening was held in September.

Kansas

A longtime Kwik Shop c-store in Lawrence closed in mid-September, and the site waits to be sold to a new owner. "We didn't renew our lease," Neal Sawyer told The Lawrence Journal World. "They wanted somebody else in there after we've been there [47] years." Employees from the closed store now are working at other area Kwik Shops, all six of which remain open. Carolyn Wulfkuhle, a co-owner of the former Kwik Shop building and site, said that the property was under contract to be sold to an individual. Closing is expected within a couple of weeks. Wulfkuhle declined to identify the buyer, nor to speculate on what might replace Kwik Shop at the site.

After almost two months, a former Shell Food Mart in Emporia opened in early August under new ownership and with a new name, Chief's Corner. The station closed in June after its owners, Crescent Oil, filed for bankruptcy, said The Emporia Gazette. Greyhound bus service, which had operated out of the station, also was interrupted by the closing; the bus service now operates out of the Short Stop Phillips 66. The station is now owned and operated by Shrunjal Investment LLC, with Ashish Patel running the store. Patel said he is meeting with Greyhound representatives to work out the details to become an agent for the bus lines. The store is also planning to add lottery.

Kentucky

Road Ranger opened a new Road Ranger location in Dry Ridge, Ky., on August 13, the company said on Twitter.

Louisiana

Baton Rouge, La.-based Cracker Barrel opened a new store in Lafayette on August 27. The site includes the chain's new exterior image, including all new LED outside lighting and a modern look, according to the company.

Maryland

Wawa opened a store in Baltimore on August 28, it said on its website.

Minnesota

The Shack, a c-store with a drive-up window, opened Labor Day weekend in Grandy. Rick Torgeson, who is helping to manage his wife, Leah's, store, said, "People's reaction to the drive-up window has been priceless. Anything we sell in the store can be picked up at the drive-in window. It has been really nice for customers who call and say they're 10 minutes away and would like a pizza. By the time they get here, their pizza is hot and ready, and I hand it to them out the window. We've really become a drive-up society." The store is also planning to offer UPS services and lottery tickets. Other plans include becoming an authorized Sears Catalog dealer, selling bait and hunting and fishing licenses and offering FedEx services.

The real-estate company associated with Kwik Trip recently completed its purchase of the Truckers Inn along I-90 north of Nodine, said The Winona Daily News. Convenience Store Investments, La Crosse, Wis., paid $550,000 for the site in Dakota, according to documents filed with the Winona County Recorder's office. CSI leases land and buildings to Kwik Trip. A Kwik Trip spokesperson said earlier the company was in discussions to buy the truckstop property and open a gas station this fall. Employees at the Truckers Inn said last month they were told the existing building would be demolished and a new structure built. Many of the truckstop's nearly 35 employees indicated they would apply at the new store, and online applications were already being accepted on Kwik Trip's website for a new store at the truckstop's address. The selling price falls well below the 2009 estimated value of the building and land, which the county assessor's website lists as $821,200. CSI bought the property from Dean and Ingrid Mantel of De Forest, Wis., who also own several truckstops in Wisconsin.

The new Hugo One Stop, owned by Michael Warner, El- Hakeem and Mark Smith, opened in mid-August, said The Citizen. The store will carry Ivy Farms Dairy products, all hormone- free. It will offer Frito-Lay, 7-Up products, cold drinks, groceries, pizza, hot and cold sandwiches, salads, ethnic foods, soup, special breads, fresh doughnuts and a full gourmet coffee bar featuring Van Houtte Cafe coffee. Initially, fresh doughnuts will be offered daily from two different sources. Customers will be able to vote for their favorite doughnut supplier. Gasoline and diesel will be furnished by US Oil, and midgrade will always be the same price as lower-grade, Warner said. There is an ATM, and the car wash will be undergoing modifications and will open soon.

Willmar businessman Walt Gislason has sold his gas station, c-store, car wash and oil change business to four employees and another local business owner, said The West Central Tribune. The business, called Walt's, was bought by Mike Brown, owner of Floor to Ceiling Store, and by c-store/gas station manager Jeff Armstrong, general manager Scott Barney, office manager Ruth Smith and oil change manager Matt Evans. The new owners do not plan to change the name. Brown said Gislason has been a great business owner and has done many good things for the community. "We're going to continue in the goodwill that he's done," he said. "We're going to have as little change as possible in the way they do business and we're going to try to enhance some of the services that they offer."

Nebraska

The former Git N Split in Lincoln is now a Bosselman Pump & Pantry, the company announced in mid-September, according to a report by The Lincoln Star Journal. It is the 42nd Pump & Pantry location for the Grand Island-based company, and the first in Lincoln.

Two North Platte businessmen recently purchased the Barn Store in North Platte, said The North Platte Bulletin. New owner Dave Stearns said the store would reopen in mid-September featuring a revitalized line of convenience snacks and supplies, plus a deli, as well as the same selections as in the past, and some of the same clerks. Stearns and partner Greg Gifford bought the Barn Store at auction August 24 and paid $149,000, according to county records. Mentzer Oil was the second bidder. John Haines, one of the operators of the old Tomahawk Truck Stop, built The Barn Store in 1974, Stearns said. Kenny McCarty and his wife ran it for a few years, then sold it to Roxanne Wendt, who managed it for several years, but recently put it up for auction.

New York

Williamsville-based Wilson Farms Neighborhood Food Stores Inc. celebrated the grand re-openings of two stores in Lockport in late August, it said on Facebook. The renovated locations now feature freshly made subs, sandwiches and salads, hot breakfast sandwiches and F'Real milkshakes. They also will include an expanded produce, dairy and frozen line and an overall increase in product variety. The locations will also introduce brand-name product lines including Staples, O-Cedar and Good Cook/Kitchen Bakeware products. The chain operates 190 c-store/gas stations in the state. (Click here for images.)

The C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University in Brookville has expanded its on-campus c-store, the Ocelot. The Ocelot Provisions on Demand (P.O.D.) Market combines the corner store with the style of a modern market. The new store features a cafe-style seating area. It provides a selection of fresh, healthy and convenient "grab-and-go" options for any meal of the day, including hot breakfast sandwiches, burritos, wraps, sushi, salads, vegan foods, fresh produce, baked goods, coffee selections and traditional c-store fare. The campus is co-launching the Ocelot P.O.D. with ARAMARK Corp.

The new owners of the former Jay's Mobil in Albany plan to turn the vacant site into a Valero station and c-store, reported The Albany Times-Union. The new owner, Prestige Petroleum Corp., Newburgh, also owns the Glenmont Mobil and owns Valero stations in Orange County. Principal Frank Hessari said plans are to turn the service bays into a large c-store. The old Jay's Mobil only had a small space for convenience items and couldn't compete. Earlier this year, Jay's Mobil owner Jay Hostetter filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The case was later converted into a Chapter 7 liquidation case. Hostetter's house in Albany was being foreclosed upon and he owed a lot of money in back taxes and judgments against the business, according to bankruptcy court documents. Jay's Mobile closed in 2007.

North Carolina

A Greenville c-store, one of several shut down earlier this summer, was leveled in early September, said WITN-TV. The Stop 2, along with the Greenville Stop One, Pitt Stop One and the Superfresh Convenience Store, were all declared a nuisance because of criminal activity that police say was going on at the businesses.

Stancil Oil Co., Selma, hopes to open a new store in January in Smithfield and plans to sell Marathon-brand gasoline and diesel, as well as E85, said The Herald. In addition to a 3,300-square-foot c-store, the new building will also house a restaurant. While Stancil Oil will operate the store and gasoline pumps, it will lease the restaurant space. The company already owned the East Market Street lot.

North Dakota

The Gas Stop in Moorhead has closed, said In Forum. Gas Stop owner Louis Long, Rapid City, S.D., would not comment about the closing. The four-pump station often sold fuel for a couple of cents less per gallon than local competitors and was sometimes credited with starting local gas wars. In November 1991, state petroleum officials in North Dakota and Minnesota suggested that Gas Stop may have broken state laws by selling gasoline for less than cost, but the Moorhead city attorney and Minnesota's attorney general declined to get involved. In 1994, Long and station manager Gerald Hanson were charged with one misdemeanor count of adulteration of gasoline for allegedly blending gasoline with "casinghead gasoline," a low-octane liquid hydrocarbon. The charge was dropped under a plea agreement. Long was fined $700 for failing to keep records in accordance with Minnesota state laws.

Oregon

A c-store owner reopened the former ampm minimart and gas station in Pendleton as Rocket Mart in early September, said The East Orgeonian. Sukhbir Sandhu also bought the property from George Bonbright. Sandhu didn't disclose the sale price, but he said the money is in escrow and the deal will close Feb. 1, 2010. Umatilla County records show Bonbright bought the property in December 1996, for $36,500. The property has an assessed value of $143,580 and a real market value of $234,590. The location has been closed since March as Bonbright struggled to find a new fuel supplier. BP/Arco supplies all the fuel for ampm stations, and Bonbright said he wanted a brand local people recognized. Under Sandhu, Space Age is supplying fuel to the station. Rocket Mart manager Twila-Dawn Phillips said Rocket Mart will allow customers to pay with credit cards at the pump, and it has done away with prepaying for fuel. She said Rocket Mart will offer new products, such as propane, and accept food stamps.

Pennsylvania

Rutter's Farm Stores has broken ground on a second location in Stewartstown that will be its biggest and most environmentally friendly store yet, the company said on Facebook. The 5,750-square-foot store is expected to open in December on the site of a former parking lot. The store will create 40 jobs. Rutter's plans to continue to operate its existing store in Stewartstown.

Texas

A Texaco station in Killeen and one in Copperas Cove now house 7-Eleven stores, but still sell Texaco fuel, said The Killeen Daily Herald. The two are part of a six-store acquisition in central Texas. "We have been converting stores around the country," 7-Eleven spokesperson Margaret Chabris told the paper. "We have some stores that sell Shell gasoline, so this is not unusual for us." 7-Eleven has no plans to stop selling the Texaco gasoline, she said. The other stores are in Austin (2) and Pflugerville. Both Killeen and Cove locations have been operational as 7-Eleven stores for about a month, Chabris said, and 7-Eleven is hoping to find franchisers for both. Remodeling took place during the day for about a month. Both stores now offer hot food options such as pizza and chicken tenders as well as sandwiches delivered daily. The Killeen store had a grand opening celebration September 18.

Washington

A Shell station in Mercer Island, WA, has sold to a private investor for $2.7 million in mid-August, said The CoStar Group. Built in 1954, the half-acre property includes a 1,500-square-foot building. Constance Wilde, Krista Haverly and Anne Marie Koehler of CB Richard Ellis represented the seller.

Canada

A Lonsdale, B.C., Shell station closed on September 9, said North Shore News, after Shell Canada terminated the operator's contract in preparation for selling the land, assessed at about $5 million. Keshvar Eidipour has operated the station/c-store for 12 years. "I got a notice from Shell saying they were terminating our contract in 45 days," she said. "They didn't give any reasons." Shell owns the land, buildings, fuel and pumps, but Eidipour's company owns the store inventory. She said Shell told her to keep the store stocked up to her last day of business, even though she would be stuck with $60,000 in merchandise. "They say it is a partnership, but I feel it is a dictatorship," she said. "So I worked really hard to get rid of the stock. I sold things at cost and I gave two-for-one deals." Eidipour estimated she still would have $7,000 worth of pop, ice cream, candy, cigarettes and other products when she closed. A friend who runs a store bought some stock at cost, but Eidipour said her suppliers had no interest in taking any products back. She is now looking for work, along with 16 others. Shell Canada spokesperson Jackie Panera said she couldn't comment on the reasons for the closure or the details of Eidipour's contract due to "the competitiveness of the retail fuel market." Panera confirmed Shell is "actively looking to market the property," but declined to say if a buyer had been found.

Please send your store openings and related announcements to Greg Lindenberg at glindenberg@cspnet.com.

Also follow
CSP Daily News on Twitter at www.twitter.com/glcspdn (Greg Lindenberg)and www.twitter.com/CSPreports (Steve Holtz).

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