Down But Not Out in La.

Fill-a-Sack owner comfortable along Gulf Coast despite latest calamity

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

BOOTHVILLE, La. -- As BP made its effort this weekend to cap its oil leak in the Gulf Coast, the irony of the spill wasn't lost on convenience store retailer Bruce Gasguet. The very oil slick that threatens the livelihood of hundreds of seafood fishermen in the area is proving to be at least a temporary boon to his business.

On one hand, when oil reaches beyond East Bay along southern-most peninsula of Louisiana, where Gasguet operates one Fill-a-Sack and his brother another two, "It'll be total devastation to the seafood industry," he told CSP Daily News. On the [image-nocss] other hand, right now, sales in Gasguet's store have "probably increased about 50%.... The news people are stepping on each other down around Venice."

Ultimately, however, this c-store survivorGasguet saw four of his five stores wiped out by Hurricane Katrina in 2005knows there's still a place for him in Boothville, La. (Click here for a CSP "Show-N-Tell" segment on Katrina the features Gasguet.)

Regardless of the outcome of the spill, there will still be a need for a gas station and convenience stores along Highway 23, which leads from New Orleans to the West Bay.

"It'll be interesting because it'll be good for people working with the oil cleanup, but it'll be terrible for the seafood industry. It'll be devastating [for them], and it won't be back within our lifetime," he said. "It'll make the Exxon Valdez look like a walk in the park."

A week ago, Fill-a-Sack and the rest of the peninsula welcomed President Obama to their tiny neck of the wood. On Wednesday, Governor Bobby Jindal visited the area.

"Yes, I saw the president," said Gasguet. "He passed right in front of the store. We had 'Welcome President Obama' on the [price] sign, and he slowed down, rolled his window down and waved at the ladies that work at the store that were in the parking lot."

Though not a supporter of Obama's during the 2008 election, Gasguet appreciated that he was touring the area to see just what is at stake, should the oil get to the Louisiana marsh land.

"He is the commander-in-chief, and I give him nothing but respect."

And even after multiple battles with hurricanes and now a manmade calamity that could potentially wipe out the main business in the area, Gasguet proudly announces that he's building a new house about 15 miles north of the bay, outside Port Sulphur.

"My family's been down here for seven generations," he said, "so there's no reason to leave now."

Meanwhile, as BP attempted to cap the leak of crude oilestimates of the rate of the leak range from 42,000 gallons per day to more than 200,000 gallonsfrom its blown-out undersea well, a small band of protesters lined up near a BP gas station in Edison, N.J., on Wednesday, urging drivers to boycott the business and calling on the company to clean up the oil spill that has spread through the Gulf of Mexico for more than two weeks, according to a report on

The roughly 20 protesters, made up of local environmental activists, also called for grassroots groups across the country to put pressure on the oil giant, London-based BP PLC. Passing motorists were met by signs and chants such as "Save our shores!" and "What does BP stand for? Boycott petroleum!"

And in Los Angeles, area residents plan to use black plastic and yellow caution tape to stage a mock oil spill in front of local BP-owned Arco station on Tuesday, according to a press release. Participants are expected to wave signs in front of the landmark Helios BP station that say "Clean it up: Our Gulf Coast, our energy," "Honk for clean energy," and "No more drilling." Protestors also will carry brooms and mops to show the need to clean up the Gulf disaster and the country's energy future.

Steve Holtz, CSP/Winsight By Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News
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