Open & Shut: 12-15-2008

Another geographic roundup of station, store, truckstop and other new retail activity

Published in CSP Daily News

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- CSP Daily News offers another semi-regular installment of Open & Shut, a roundup of many of the sometimes unsung new-store groundbreakings, raze and rebuilds, openings, reopenings, rebrandings, closures and sales announced around the country by chains small, medium and large. The digest includes transactions by a few larger companies, as well as many smaller, independent marketers and entrepreneurs that have opened since the last installment, but do not often make headlines like their larger, more high-profile counterparts.

California
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Tesoro Corp. sold a station in Santa Ana to United Oil Co. for $1.5 million, said the CoStar Group. The property, which features a 250-sq.-ft. building on a half-acre parcel, was constructed in 1976. There are three islands, four pumps and three curb cuts.

BP West Coast Products auctioned off an Arco ampm location in Bloomington for $2.7 million, or $980 per square foot. The total purchase came to $3.6 million with the business included. The 2,754-sq.-ft. station and c-store is in the East San Bernardino submarket, said the CoStar Group.

Florida

A station owner in Stuart is using environmentally friendly methods and materials to remodel an old Sunoco location, said Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. Mohammad Hussein said the new 5,000-sq.-ft. building is under construction and should be complete soon. "It kind of offsets the fact that they're selling fossil fuels," said architect Donald Komara, who designed the building. Hussein said he is spending $2.5 million for the new store, which will have a cafeteria-style deli. "The upfront costs are much higher," he said, "but according to all of the experts, it will pay for itself down the road." Because excess materials will be eliminated wherever possible, Komara estimates the building's "green" features increase its construction cost by less than 10%. The flooring will be a special type of concrete slab that will not have any tile or other added components. The flooring and concrete block walls will contain fly ash, a waste product. The exterior and interior walls will be covered in materials such as colored stucco and plaster to eliminate the need for paint. On the roof, a small metal structure covered in photovoltaic cells to capture the sun's energy will shield the air conditioning unit. The cells will allow the station to produce its own power, at least partially, and by keeping the air conditioner in the shade, it will use less energy. Waste heat from the air conditioning system will be used for heating water. The roof also will contain a reflective metal to keep it cooler. It also will have a collection system to divert rainwater into underground cisterns for irrigating the drought-tolerant landscaping. Some of the pavement will be replaced with concrete pavers that allow water to seep through and create less runoff. Other features include special windows to keep out heat but let in natural light, requiring less artificial lighting. The building will have one waterless urinal.

Georgia

Publix Super Markets will open its first Pix c-store in metropolitan Atlanta on Wednesday in Alpharetta, reported NorthFulton.com. The 3,150 square feet store will feature Publix private-label items such as fresh baked doughnuts, made-to-order subs with fresh baked breads, Publix milk, bread, ice cream and eggs. It will also have six gasoline bays with 12 service pumps. Eleven associates will be employed at the store.

Indiana

In October, owner and company president Karnail Singh opened the Oxford Gasway Marathon station and c-store in Fort Wayne, reported Frost Illustrated. Singh said he had been looking for some time for a spot to open a station that would serve community needs; a number of people talked to him about the corner's history and how it once was the site of a station that was key to serving residents. After that station closed years ago, the neighborhood was without a gas station. Singh said it made sense to open a new station there.

Maine

Since suffering severe burns in a fire at the pump that he was testing at his Sunoco station in Scituate, Fouad "Ed" Issa, said he has lost enthusiasm for running a gas station, and has been trying to sell his lease for $49,999, according to his advertisement on craigslist.org cited by The Scituate Mariner. He said that amount is meant to cover the cost of his equipment. "I'm basically getting out with nothing," he said. Issa estimated that he missed two to three months of work, during which time the station closed its garage and many customers went elsewhere. He said the station made "basically no income" during that period. The injury heightened Issa's negative feelings for the business, which he said begun over a dispute with Sunoco over his monthly rent.

Massachusetts

A Mobil station in Georgetown Square in Danvers opened in late November, reported The Danvers Herald. New owner Dave Levine has owned Dave's Mobil in Danvers for more than 25 years in Danvers Square. After the closing of the Mobil station in Georgetown this spring, he was contacted by Mobil to take over the spot. "I liked the location, and Mobil was willing to put some money into the location and help me get started there," Levine said. He said he plans on renovating the service bays for vehicle repairs and possibly inspection stickers. A Mobil station in Georgetown, previously called Scotty's Mobil, was a business that had been in town since 1932 before closing in April. The station is owned by ExxonMobil, and was leased by longtime owner Dave Schauer until he sold it in December 2007 to Michael Vetrano, who closed the station, but has continued the towing service, Scotty's Towing.

Mississippi

Kash King in Hattiesburg closed recently only two months after opening and offering some of the lowest gasoline prices in the area, reported The Hattiesburg American. It had opened for business on September 22 by selling gasoline for $3.10 when the average cost for a gallon of gasoline was $3.62.

Missouri

A Fisca station in Kansas City shut down on November 6, said MyFox Kansas City. Norma Fossett, the station owner sold of the remaining gasoline at a discounted price.

Nevada

Bently Biofuels Outpost is Nevada's first full-sized alternative fuel station, said The Record-Courier. It has three fuel islands, two for regular cars and one for commercial trucks. Patrons will find three types of homemade biodiesel: B5, B20 and B99.9. It also offers E10 and E85. The building was designed to maximize energy efficiency. Skylights light the main store in the day. Solar tubes, cylindrical portals with powerful lenses, light the bathrooms. Hot water and heat are provided by solar thermal panels behind the store. The canopy is slanted and will be equipped with solar electric panels for electricity. The site has outdoor LED lights. "They are 70% more efficient," general manager Carlo Luri said. "At night, they produce a beautiful white glow." Luri said energy-efficient technologies can be expensive, but that the money is more than made back through energy savings. Retail manager Lindsay Hassett has filled the c-store's shelves and bamboo cabinets with 60% organic and health-oriented items and 40% traditional items. "A normal [c-store] has their menu, and that's it," she said. "Our challenge is take a whole-foods market, to take a Safeway, and shrink it down to the size of a 7-Eleven." She added that the Outpost will emphasize made-in-Nevada products such as Killer Salsa, Tahoe Creamery ice cream, Alpen Sierra Mountain Roasted Coffee and sandwiches and soup from Cafe Girasole. They also hope a bike rack outside the store will attract eco-conscious guests. It also offers a high-stool seating area, informational kiosk and more.

A former Shell station in Las Vegas sold for $1.75 million, or about $445 per square foot in a sale between two private parties. The buyer also acquired the business for an additional $450,000. The 3,928-sq.-ft. c-store offers eight fueling positions, said the CoStar Group. The buyer also plans to rent U-Haul trucks and trailers at this location. It has been renamed Dectrop Convenience Store & Service Station.

After eight days of being closed, the gasoline pumps at the Park Place ampm in Gardnerville were re-opened, said The Record-Courier. Roger Falcke, owner of The Genoa Co., which built the station and c-store in 1998 and was overseeing its current renovation, is part owner of the franchise. "This is our 10th year in business with the Arco franchise, and we're giving it a facelift inside and out," he said. "We're going for a fresh new look." The exterior facelift included a new canopy over the fueling stations, new signs, new dispensers and a paint job. The interior of the store is being remodeled; the store remaind open during construction. "We're setting up a new bakery and a new coffee program," Falcke said. He said the store will be baking its own pastries once construction is completed.

New Jersey

The owners of a 43-year-old Hunterdon County truckstop moved forward in October with plans to renovate the diner and gas station after years of wrangling with local officials, said The Hunterdon County Democrat. Johnny's truckstop in Union Township has remained relatively unchanged since a national chain took it over last year. But after years of legal disputes, Pilot Travel Centers is ready to transform the site into a colonial-styled rest area. Local officials had objected to an original plan that would have razed the truckstop and replaced it with a new one that would have attracted up to 1,600 people a day. There were local concerns over increased traffic and impacts to the environment from storm water run off and pollutants. The company's plan now is to renovate the interior and exterior of the facility. The proposal will include several requests made by members of the zoning and planning board, which approved variances permitting a once-disputed c-store and a proposal for replacing the diner with a Subway, said Paul Schneider, a Pilot lawyer.

New Mexico

The sign on the front door of the newly opened Alamo Quik Pik reads: "Veteran Owned." Three of the people running the store have a combined 66 years of service with the U.S. Air Force, reported The Alamogordo Daily News. The store reopened recently after being closed for seven months. The closure and subsequent sale to Bonnie Deeds and Wayne Mims occurred when the former owner decided to stop selling alcoholic beverages for "moral" reasons. That decision later led to a steep drop in business and to the closure. Deeds retired as a chief master sergeant from Holloman Air Force Base. Mims also retired from Holloman as a master sergeant. The new Alamo Quik Pik is their first store. Forrest Blayney, a holdover from the previous store, is the third Air Force veteran, with 21 years of service.

New York

Bill's Sunoco in Ithaca, an old-fashioned stone station that has been a fixture there since 1930, had a cash-only gasoline sale in late October until it ran out, said WVBR-TV. A crew then removed the tanks and filled in the parking lot; the business has resumed as an auto service operation. The staff said it believes it was not only Ithaca's oldest station, but the state's oldest station.

Ben Signh recently opened Cafe & Deli Corner Store in Binghamton, said WBGH-TV. The shop sells coffee, cold cuts and other grocery items. "When you go into convenience stores you just don't get that hometown feeling anymore, and I was raised in a small town. It just occurred to me I can't be the only one feeling that you want to go back to simpler times, so basically I figured I do an old-time deli kind of deal, where people actually come, like am meeting spot." Signh also plans on extending it into an ice cream store in the summer with outdoor tables.

Reid Stores Inc., a division of The Reid Group, is completing construction of a 600-sq.-ft. addition to its K&K Food Mart in Medina, said The Journal-Register. The store will include many new amenities, including Wi-Fi access, a large beverage selection including a craft beer selection, fresh produce and an expanded pizzeria menu. Customers can access free Wi-Fi in the store's new Corner Cafe Connect seating area. They can use the service for laptops, smartphones and personal digital assistants. The revamped store will feature a new interior decor and larger frozen food and dairy sections. It will add a Farm Fresh Produce department, as well as magazines and paperback books. It will continue to carry a variety of tobacco products, along with a Subway, an ATM, prepaid wireless phone cards, gift cards, E-ZPass applications, lottery and postage stamps. It will offer Sunoco fuel, including new ultra-low sulfur diesel.

Ohio

S&S Oil Co., Auburn, closed the S&S Express gas station and c-store in late October, said The Archbold Buckeye. Craig Mossberger, general manager of the company, said he had no comment about the closure, other than to say, "The economy has hurt us, also."

BP closed a station in Cuyahoga Falls in early November, said The Beacon Journal. Spokesperson Scott Dean told the newspaper that the site is a former BP-owned and operated station. "As BP nationwide is transitioning away from direct-owned and -operated gas stations and c-stores, the site has been closed until we can find a buyer who will operate the site as an independently owned site that will still fly the BP brand and sell BP gasoline," he said. Dean said the tanks were being removed because they needed replacement, but the company hopes to find a buyer who will run it as a gas station.

Oregon

After winning a long battle, a station owner is finally getting his original sign back in downtown Roseburg. Chuck's Texaco is again an actual Texaco station, reported KPIC-TV. The old Texaco logos are going back on the building. Chuck McCullum has owned the station for 42 years, and he has tried to get the sign changed for many months. He said Chevron and Texaco merged a few years ago, and he did not want to be a part of Shell. "We had to give up some of our shares of marketing, and they let the Shell Oil Co. have some of our Texaco marketing. I refused to be a Shell dealer, so I went back to being a Chevron dealer, and now we're going back to be a Texaco dealer." Chuck's, which has been open for 42 years, was named Business of the Year by the Roseburg Rotary Club.

Utah

A Maverik gas station is in the works for Santaquin City, a Maverik official told The Daily Herald. The company anticipates construction will begin in March, with an early August completion date projected. Maverik has sold nearby land that will be used for a hotel; a few neighboring Maverik-owned parcels, are still available for purchase, the company said.

Virginia

The IDG CITGO station in Charlottesville shut down its pumps in early October, reported The Hook. The station closed not due to any credit crisis, oil price shocks or even a spate of driveoffs; the business ended over the parent company's decision to get out of the retail fuel business. "Our company doesn't own or operate convenience stores or gas stations," said Joe Campbell, director of operations at Gainesville, Ga.-based Mansfield Oil. He added that the station was a casualty of Mansfield's focus on wholesale sales.

Washington

An ampm c-store in west Vancouver closed temporarily to undergo a major remodel in October, The Columbian said. The project included new Arco fuel pumps, new computer cash registers and an improved interior with a deli and doughnut counter, said owner Kameel Kanso, who bought the station about eight months ago. He would not say how much he spent on the remodel, but mentioned that each new pump costs $15,000.