C-Store Seeing Success With Taxi Service

Ampride station in Minnesota fills void left by defunct cab company

Published in CSP Daily News

CROOKSTON, Minn. -- An Ampride gas station and convenience store in Crookston, Minn., has taken product diversity to a new level by adding a taxi service, reported The Grand Forks Herald.

"You don't usually put these two together, but then I started thinking that we already are open 24 hours a day, we have a car wash and we sell gas," Wayne "Weiner" Melbye, the Ampride manager and a Crookston City Council member, told the newspaper. "I thought it might be a good fit."

The taxi business, run out of the c-store's office, started April 1, 2012, a few months after a conventional cab company folded. That left a void in this city of about 8,000, said the report.

"I thought it would be good PR for us, if nothing else," Melbye said. "But, financially, we're above board. Hopefully we'll put enough away to get a new set of tires when we need them."

Records show 1,107 fares in December, a daily average of 36. In-town rides have a flat rate of $6.

It's a tag-team operation, as 12 Ampride employees, including Melbye, share driving duties for the 24x7 operation. Unlike in some cities, the taxi service does not receive a government subsidy.

"It's getting busier, so we're looking into getting a second cab," Melbye said.

The rides typically are to work, shopping, medical appointments and a safe return at bar-closing time, the report said.

The cab service also has helped store sales, Melbye said. When the designated cabbie isn't picking up a fare, he or she is working inside the store. Chores between runs include cleaning, stocking shelves and preparing food in the store's deli.

Deli sales, especially during overnight hours, have soared because of the extra help.

"It seems like we've been a good fit," Melbye said. "Knowing it's an Ampride product has helped because they know the phone is going to be answered and they're familiar with the Ampride name."

And, sometimes, an incoming call serves two purposes. Said Melbye: "Every once in awhile, someone will call for a ride and then ask, 'Can you bring a sausage pizza with you?'"