Open & Shut: 2-17-2009

More station, store, other retail activity from around the nation

Published in CSP Daily News

OAK BROOK, Ill. --Through good economic times and bad, the convenience store industry acts like a living, breathing organism. Entrepreneurs continue to open and close businesses. To help track that ebb and flow, CSP Daily News offers another semi-regular installment of Open & Shut, a roundup of 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, which have not otherwise been reported in on a day-to-day basis.

CSP routinely reports on selloffs [image-nocss] and purchases within the convenience-retail world and has collected a significant database on industry transactions. These stores will join the other locations included on CSP's new M&A Tracker interactive map, found at www.cspnet.com/mnatracker. ( Click here for more details.)

California

BP sold an ARCO ampm location in Cathedral City to a private buyer for $1.47 million, or about $545 per square foot, said The CoStar Group. The property sold for land value and business value was not included. The retail property was built in 1992 on a 0.83-acre lot in the Coachella Valley submarket. The buyer reported that the existing structure will be razed and a new gas station will be built on the site. The scheduled groundbreaking date was undisclosed.

In late January, Equilon Enterprises LLC sold a gas station in Los Angeles to Harry Hahn for $3.66 million, or about $2,222 per square foot, said The CoStar Group. Built in 1964, the 1,647-sq.-ft. retail building is on a signalized corner.

Palm Springs' first gas station received a facelift in January after new owners took over, said The La Quinta Sun. New pumps and a larger, digital sign have been installed. The Village Station pumps have been pumping fuel since the early 1980s, before the city was incorporated. It has seen multiple owners and once included a deli and repair shop. Ted Newell owned the store for five years but decided to put it up for sale last fall. "It was a nice little business but I sold it to a company who has many more stations," he said. Tower Energy Group, Torrance, bought the property and company. Spokesperson Nick Battaglia said customers will notice no major changes in service. The privately owned corporation has 36 other c-stores in Northern California. "The facility was upgraded because it needed a little work," he said. "Half of the gas pumps didn't accept credit cards and that's important to have." It has been renamed The Village Market.

Owner Fred Tautenhahn shuttered the gas station part of his 40-year-old Westlake Touchless Car Wash business in Daly City in mid-January when he realized that selling fuel at competitive prices and putting in $350,000 worth of required environmental upgrades would hurt him financially. "We decided it was not worth the risk," he told The San Mateo County Times. "I couldn't go low enough on gas to compete with Costco." He said trying to match Costco's prices would cost him $1.5 million per year. He has a year to remove three empty steel 10,000-gallon tanks still below the ground. Shell spokesperson Jenny Powers said the company is evaluating options for reopening the site.


Connecticut

A Getty station in Millerton closed for business in early January, reported The Lakeville Journal. Syed Shah said Monday he will no longer be owner of the business, and if Getty, the corporation, which owns the lease, is interested in keeping the business open, it would need to find another tenant. He said he has owned the Getty station for the last five years. He said Getty is moving out of the northeastern United States in the next two to three years and he didn't want to wait for that to happen. "The economy crashed," he said. "I've never seen something as bad as this. Colombia and Litchfield counties are very competitive right now. Before you start getting into a big loss, you have to cut your losses and move on. That's how the business works."


Hawaii

A 7-Eleven store in Kihei closed in mid-January, said The Maui News. While the current economic downturn contributed to the decision to close the store, more weight was given to its track record of not being profitable, said Blake Yokotake, human resources manager for 7-Eleven stores in Hawaii. "It was something coming for a while," he said. The action was part of a companywide policy of closing "underperforming units," he said, although the Kihei store is the only one of 57 in the state to be shuttered. He did not say whether other stores in the state face closure.


Indiana

In January, Praveen Gulati, the owner of the CITGO Smart Shop in West Lafayette, resumed direct control of the store, which he leased out for the past couple of years, reported The Journal & Courier. Gulati has lowered the pices on many snacks and other items. "We're trying to get things back the way they were and lower the prices," said Chris Gastineau, who has returned as manager. "When I came in the prices on everything were jacked up. About 80 percent of the prices have been lowered." The location has been renovated, including new flooring and a paint job. Outside the building, a red retaining wall is adorned with paintings of pennants from each of the Big Ten universities. An ATM has been added and the store is now open round the clock. Gulati also owns a second the Smart Shop in Lafayette.

A Fort Wayne gas station owner is investing at least $200,000 to rebuild the c-store, the builder told The Journal Gazette in January, The project will more than double the 392-sq.-ft. Clark station's current size. The new c-store will have about 1,000 sq. ft. of space and feature a walk-in cooler, frozen foods and groceries, said Jim Burns of Burns Builders. S&A Oil LLC bought the station in the fall for an undisclosed price, owner Hameed Salih said. The company might change the Clark station's brand, but has not decided yet, he said.


Kansas

The EZ-Go convenience store at the service area at mile marker 209 east of Lawrence closed in mid-January for reconstruction, turnpike spokesperson Lisa Callahan told The Capital-Journal. The operator will raze the current building and construct a new one, with a target date of July 4 for the reopening. She said the McDonald's at the service area remains open for dining.


Nebraska

A Loaf N Jug c-store in Scottsbluff closed in late January, reported KDUH-TV. Company president Art Stofski said every year the company decides to close a few stores based on sales and lease expirations. With four new Loaf N Jug stores being opened in other areas and the lease expiring for the Scottsbluff gas station, they decided it would be best for the company to close the store. All employees were offered positions at a nearby location.


Nevada

Green Valley Grocery bought a c-store in Henderson from Zarvian LLC in late January for $3.25 million, or about $715 per square foot, said The CoStar Group. The price included the business value, all of the operational equipment and an excess parcel of buildable land. The 4,550-sq.-ft. retail building was constructed in 1998 in the Southeast Las Vegas/Henderson submarket. It was the former home of the Mighty Mart Convenience Store. The transaction was considered a distress sale as the property was in pre-foreclosure.

The Siegel Group Nevada Inc. acquired the Barcelona Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in January. The deal included, among other properties and assets, a c-store with a Shell station currently leased by Green Valley Grocery.


New Mexico

A Las Cruces gas station closes its doors, reported KFOX-TV, and one manager said it may or may not be temporary. The signs at the Earl's Buy N Fly Diamond Shamrock station said the station was temporarily closed. One manager said the competition with another station in town played a big role, as it offered cheaper prices for its opening. The other Buy N Fly in town remains open. The store is owned by Las Cruces Oil Co., Bayard.


North Carolina

A Shell station in Durham near Brightleaf Square has reopened in a new configuration, reported The Durham News. Its convenience store, which previously stood in the middle of its triangular lot, has been rebuilt at the west end, facing the intersection, leaving more maneuvering room around the relocated gas pumps. The new building has a glass and brick facade that blends with many of the nearby structures.


North Dakota

Co-owners Jerrod McPherson and Trent Lee opened Cheetah-Mart in January in Fargo. "We think our store is more like a mini food court that happens to sell gas, too," Lee told In-Forum. The location sells convenience store staples such as pop, chips and gum. Affiliated with the Clark brand, Cheetah-Mart has 12 fueling stations and provides three grades of gasoline, E-85 and diesel fuel. Cheetah-Mart's 5,700-sq.-ft. allows sitdown eating capacity for 40, an area featuring easy chairs around a fireplace, a drive-through window, a car wash and a Godfather's Pizza franchise. It also offers the Daily Grind coffee shop and Soup and Salad Express, both branded stores owned by Lee and McPherson. The store's building and equipment cost an estimated $2.5 million to $2.75 million, Lee said. They are interested in opening other Cheetah-Mart stores, as well as other Daily Grind and Soup and Salad Express locations.


Ohio

One of the last full-service gasoline stations in central Ohio shut down its pumps in late December because there was no longer money in selling gasoline. Broad & James Shell closed the fuel island and c-store parts of the business after 35 years, said The Columbus Dispatch. Co-owners and brothers Jim and Tim Shriner will continue to operate the auto-repair and towing parts of the business.

Waterway Gas & Wash has opened a location in Bainbridge Township, said Modern Car Care. The $4.5 million facility is Waterway's 18th car wash location and first in northeast Ohio. The full-service carwash is located on a site occupying approximately 55,000 sq. ft. It also offers BP gasoline and features traditional and high-end convenience store items. Waterway's washes serve the metro areas of Cleveland, St. Louis, Kansas City, Kansas and Denver. The company also recently opened a facility in Foxfield, Colo. Waterway said it plans to build several more locations in northeast Ohio during the next few years. Waterway reported 2007 sales of $95 million, and the company is forecasting $5 million in sales this year for the new Bainbridge Township location.


Oklahoma

Omega Alpha Development Group, which owns a site vacated in 2007 by Albertson's Inc., said a 2,000-sq.-ft. Fiesta Mart will open within 60 days in the now-empty Albertsons c-store on the site. Omega Alpha president Jonathan Graber told The Tulsa World Arkansas Valley Petroleum, which operates Fiesta Mart stores, had considered the area before the grocery chain left. "Arkansas Valley had their eye on it for a long time,bCrLf he said. "It has good highway access, and the area is underserved by convenience stores.bCrLf Tulsa-based Omega Alpha purchased the grocery, the c-store and the surrounding 7.5 acres for $1.65 million late last year to help find a replacement food store and encourage redevelopment of the area. Graber said replacing the c-store separately is the first step, as it will help attract a new grocery tenant. "Most grocery store operators we've been talking with aren't interested in being in the convenience store business,bCrLf he said. "They would rather have someone else focus on it.bCrLf


Pennsylvania

An independently operated Uni-Mart c-store and gas station closed in late December, reported The Times Leader. The Uni-Mart, which included a Pennstar bank branch that will remain open, was built in the mid-1990s as an Orloski's Quik Mart. Orloski's, which had grown to 43 stores after its founding in 1969, was sold to Uni-Mart Corp. in 2000 for $41 million. Uni-Mart operated a network of 283 company and dealer-operated stores when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May.


Texas

T& D's One Stop was sold in late January and the new owner will call it Oak Island One Stop, said The Anahuac Progress. The location was being refurbished. New fuel tanks will be installed. The location was scheduled to open sometime in late February or mid March.


Washington

The Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe will receive a $750,000 grant for the construction of a gas station and c-store in Tokeland County, reported The Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. The funds come from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Prior Lake, Minn., which over the past 11 years has donated more than $132.5 million to charities and American Indian tribes. The tribe operates several enterprises, including two casinos.

Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc. said it bought 10 acres of land north of Interstate 90 in west Post Falls, where it plans to build a 24-hour truck stop, with a fueling station, restaurant and c-store. Rick Shuffield, Love's director of real estate, told The Spokane Journal of Business that the project is in the early planning stages, and it might be six months to a number of years before construction begins.


Wisconsin

Titletown Oil Co. is now operating a Grand Central Station c-store in Green Bay. Mike Borlee, owner of Mike's Service Center, told The Green Bay Press Gazette that the store is a good match for his adjacent automotive repair shop. The property, including the 2,500-sq.-ft. store, a Shell station and the automotive shop, is owned by SCJ Properties, which is owned by Borlee's wife, Susan. The c-store has Bean Boulevard Coffee, salads, sandwiches and bakery items.


Ontario, Canada

Flying J opening two fuel stops, one in Kapuskasing and another in Cornwall, reported Today's Trucking. The new Kapuskasing location has five commercial diesel lanes, one RV lane, parking for 40 trucks, four private showers, a drivers' lounge, ATM, Scan & Go kiosk, overnight truck parking and food. The newest associate location is the Irving Mainway in Cornwall. This location offers four public showers, eight commercial diesel lanes, parking for 24 trucks, trailer drops and a Subway restaurant. The openings were not affected by the company's bankruptcy.

Keywords: 
M&A