Open & Shut: 3-27-2009

More convenience, fuel retailing activity from around the nation

Published in CSP Daily News

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- The current poor economy is bringing challenges and opportunities to the convenience store and gasoline retailing industry. Many entrepreneurs continue to open new businesses and try new concepts, while many others make that difficult decision to thank their customers, close up shop for the last time and move on.

To help track that retail 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 [image-nocss] sales announced around the country by chains small, medium and large, which have not otherwise been reported on a day-to-day basis.


Alaska

A Big Lake entrepreneur said he plans to open a c-store, liquor store and gas station at the Settlers Bay subdivision in Knik in June, said The Alaska Journal of Commerce. The new store will also have a variety of staples, including milk and bread, plus hot foods, flavored cappuccino, fresh pizza and other hot foods to go. Propane, water and dump facilities will be available for recreational vehicles.


Arkansas

A newly remodeled Shell convenience store in Forrest City has reopened for business, said Forrest City Times-Herald. The business reopened last week after undergoing more than $600,000 in construction to replace its old facility and the dispensers.


California

Jerry Yates, owner of Hometown Auto Parts & Gas Station in Mountain Ranch, confirmed for The Pine Tree that he quit selling gasoline and diesel in mid-March, allowing existing supplies to run out. He added that he was forced to stop selling fuel due to the new state Phase II Enhanced Vapor Recovery regulations as of April 1, 2009. The station had been exempt because it pumped less than 40,000 gallons per year, but he was informed by the county several weeks ago that he would no longer be exempt. The Auto Parts Store will remain open.

In late February, the Dakota Mart & Car Spa celebrated the grand re-opening of the newly enhanced car wash facility in Murrieta, said The North Country Times. It offers gas pumps with 76 brand gasoline, a c-store, a Subway restaurant and an upgraded Car Spa.

Scott Chesney, El Mirage's economic development director, said a Shell station opened there in late February, said The Daily News-Sun.


Florida

A Shell station in Palmetto will close at the end of March, reported The Bradenton Herald. Economic conditions forced closure of the location, which has been a popular spot for fishermen to purchase live bait before launching their boats in the Manatee River. The property has housed a service station since 1928.

A Shell station, c-store, deli and mechanic's garage in Palm Beach are officially closing April 30, reported The Palm Beach Daily News. Pell Rogers, the owner for the past 12 years, said a confidential settlement with the property's owners, the Testas, prevents him from discussing why, but court records indicate his company, Atlantic Marketing Inc., has been battling over his lease with the Testas since 2007. They claim the lease expired in April 2007, but he contends they gave him the option of a 10-year renewal until 2017. But the Testas "wrongfully determined that the 10-year option it granted was not in Testas' best interest due to the determination by Testas to seek to redevelop the subject property for condominium units," said documents submitted by Rogers' attorney. The two parties settled in July 2008, said court documents. The Testas want to demolish their restaurant and the adjacent station for condos. Another factor motivating demolition is a state law requiring gas stations to replace antiquated USTs with double-walled tanks by December 31. "Not enough people use the gas station to make it profitable for them," Planning & Zoning Commission member Leslie Shaw said. "They're not giving up the gas station because it's an economic success."

The former Super One Stop in Orlando, which includes a gas station, c-store, car wash, oil change station and fast-food area, was put up for auction in late February by Fisher Auction Co. Inc. It was sold for $2,447,500.


Georgia

Universal Investment Associates Inc. has acquired a Chevron station in Atlanta for $3 million, or approximately $2,923 per square foot, said The CoStar Group. The seller, SE.AM.TI. Inc., has owned the property since 2003. The station, with a 1,026-sq.-ft. c-store, was built in 1988 on 0.6 acres. It is in the Buckhead/Lenox Retail submarket.


Idaho

A $10 million, 13,000 sq.-ft. facility, the Sage Hill Travel Center and casino owned by the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes will open in September in Pocatello, reported KIDK-TV. The c-store opened in February, and the casino opened in early March. For truckers, it offers a wide turning areas, and a lounge with a TV and Internet access.


Illinois

After 16 years, Leibold Auto & Diagnostic Center discontinued its gas station and c-store operations, said The East Dubuque Register in late February. The auto service center will remain open at the present location until a future site is completed and the business relocates. Owner Pete Leibold sold the property to the Illinois Department of Transportation for future road and bridge expansion.


Kansas

A former Deli Shop in Clay Center is getting completely reworked from the inside out by Leiszler Oil Co., said The Clay Center Dispatch. The company has replaced refrigerators and improved flooring and walls on the inside. An employee said the interior is "all being redone." The company is making the third Leiszler Oil Short Stop in Clay Center more easily accessed by trucks. Workers have poured new cement pads, resided the exterior with siding that resembles a stone facade, replaced fuel pumps on the east side, expanded the pads behind the station and added a main diesel pump with two satellite pumps that draw from the same tank on the west side. Previously, no pumps were active behind the station. It is also replacing the skinnings of the canopies to match other Conoco stations owned by Leiszler Oil.

A BP station and c-store in Basehor opened on March 3, reported The Basehor Sentinel.

Pete's of Erie Inc. (dba Pump 'n Pete's) closed one of its Fort Scott stores in late February, The Fort Scott Tribune said. Another of its Fort Scott store closed March 1 after underperforming for several years largely due to economic factors beyond the company's control, Pete's of Erie president Gratz Peters said. Peters attributed considerably higher taxes on cigarettes and gasoline in Kansas, along with Kansas beer laws that push more than 80% of domestic beer sales to liquor stores, to the store's closing. "Kansas convenience stores are finding it increasingly difficult to survive," he said. Pump 'n Pete's will continue to operate its other stores in Fort Scott. The company is exploring other possible business uses for the real estate and building.


Louisiana

Sales records show that a Shell station in Zachary changed hands for $900,000, reported WBRZ-TV. The buyer was Brenton Investment Corp., Youngsville, headed by P. Brent Mouton. The seller is listed as Lavigne Oil Co. of Baton Rouge LLC, held by Milton Lavigne in Hammond.


Michigan

City commissioners in A Kwik-Way Mart in Muskegon has changed hands, said The Muskegon Chronicle, from Betak Enterprises III Inc. to Almajeed Inc., owned by 24-year-old Samir Majeed.


Missouri

In February, Oppenheim Consulting Services/Catalyst Resource Group put the B & D Auto and Truck Plaza, located at I-44 (exit 127) in Lebanon, up for sale or lease. The 10.75-acre site consists of a 17,750-sq.-ft. primary retail sales building containing a c-store, a full-service restaurant and truckers' store. The property also contains a freestanding three-bay truck shop.

Tim and Pat Whitaker of Trenton said they have purchased the Kum & Go store in Trenton to reopen it as a sister store to its current TNT Convenience Store. The Whitakers said they had reached an agreement to buy the location, with closing to take place on March 30. The store will be closed for a few days after the purchase while replacing canopy fascia and signage. It will then reopen on April 1 as TNT Convenience and will sell Shell fuel, reported The Trenton Republican Times.


North Carolina

A downtown Hendersonville station is going out of the gasoline business and staying with full-time service and repairs, reported The Times-News. Larry Laughter, co-owner of the station with his brother Rob, said the business was started by his father in 1954. It was then an Esso station and later became an independent Exxon dealer. Laughter said the station stopped selling gasoline last December. The local distributor stopped providing updates for Exxon's new look, including pumps and canopy, which would cost $130,000. "The cost of state tank permits, the low profit margin per gallon of gas combined with the use of credit cards that charge interest are reasons why we decided to remove the pumps," said Laughter. "The days of the full service gas and repair stations are gone because people generally purchase their gas at convenience stores." The station will continue to repair and service vehicles. "The loss of the gas service has not affected the repair customers," said Laughter.

A Murphy Express station and c-store has opened in Denver, reported News@Norman.com.

The old Sugar Hill Truck Stop in Marion will soon be again open for business, said The McDowell News. The business has been closed and the lot blocked off for several years. The location, in front of a recently announced new big-box store and shopping center, is four or five acres and is not part of the shopping center development. The site belongs to Carolina Energies of Shelby, which is a subsidiary of Rutherford Electric Membership Corp. "We're getting inspections now," a spokesperson said. The row of pumps, tanks and attendant booth are fairly new, but the store building will need to be entirely gutted and remodeled and will become a full-service c-store. The company said it hopes to open for business in as little as two months, but possibly as many as six months, depending on the time needed to complete the remodel and upgrades and obtaining all the necessary inspections.


Ohio

Lyndhurst Sunoco has closed its doors after 55 years, said The Sun Messenger. Owner Dave Kachelein closed the station on March 7. The station had been selling a low volume of gasoline since the prices spiked last summer, business manager Janet Nezbeda said. Sunoco is selling the Lyndhurst Station along with approximately 25 other stations in Ohio. The auto repair portion of the business will remain open.

After three years, Leetonia business owner Nihayah Amad "Moe" Esmail has opened the Leetonia Shell Station, The Salem News reported.


Pennsylvania

Banas Food Mart and gas station in Wilkes-Barre, reported The Times Leader. The decision to close up shop after half a century was an easy one for 82-year-old George Banas. A heart condition caused him to cut back on his hours. He said he could not keep up with the larger gas and c-stores. "The bigger stations can undercut your gas price by 10 cents," he said. Opening for business in 1956, the full-service station, called Banas Brothers, was run by Banas and his brother John with help from his cousin John Ungvarski. The two-bay service station became a neighborhood hub. After 29 years of leasing the property, Banas bought the station in 1985 and remodeled it in 1987. The garage was renovated into a c-store and the name changed to Banas Food Mart.


South Carolina

Hilton Head Island lost one of its few remaining "mom-and-pop" gas stations in mid-March, reported The Hilton Head Island Packet. Island Chevron has closed after 20 years in business with the same owner, leaving only a couple of independently-owned gas stations on Hilton Head. The station will reopen as an Enmark location in the next few weeks. A new carwash should open later this spring.


Texas

The former Shelby's Exxon in Texarkana is now known as Woody's Exxon, said The Texarkana Gazette. Woody's owner, Andy Woodman, said Woody's is named for his father, John A. "Woody" Woodman. It is Andy Woodman's third business venture; he also has "Dr. Dent," a windshield and dent repair shop across the street from the station, and car lot on the opposite corner. Shelby's closed its doors October 31 after being sold to new owners. It had been slated to open a new c-store, but Woodman was approached about buying the station after the owner couldn't make payments. The offer was one Woodman couldn't refuse. "I knew this corner. When it closed, people didn't have the service they've been used to anymore. I want people to know we're back and we're going to take care of them," he said. Full-service customers can expect to get the same service as before. A full-time mechanic is also on duty.


Virginia

B&B Market opened in Hurt in mid-February, owned by Mike Blackstock, said The Altavista Journal. He and his brother bought the building once J&W Market went out of business about two months ago. He remodeled the inside with a new grill and equipment, new flooring and ceiling; he also remodeled the bathrooms. Blackstock, 41, has stepped up security by adding a new camera that overlooks both the inside and outside parking lot. He also added a new coat of paint outside and a new sign. The fuel pumps were refurbished. Seating has also been added for 14 patrons. The c-store will offer breakfast biscuits, short-order items and homemade pies and desserts. B&B Market will be stocked with a fresh produce, as well as beverages and household items. The store will also have popcorn and chips with chili and cheese. Tobacco products will be available. In March, the store will add the Virginia lottery, and Blackstock has applied for a beer and wine license.