new solutions for old stores

Searching for higher and better uses for units that are terminally ill.

At the time of this writing, thelong, hot summer of 2007 is finallywinding down and the prospectof a cooler football-inspiredautumn is rapidly taking shape. Duringthis time, my company has been workingon several marketer divestitures that havecommonality in the need to determine anon-traditional future for several storescontained in the respective site packages.Our challenge is to bring truth to the oldadage that “one person’s garbage is another’streasure” in marketing these obsoleteconvenience facilities.

Across the country many marketers arestill resistant to shuttering marginal stores.I call this trend of continually supportingtired old sites year after year as the “deadmen walking” phenomena, whereby hopereins eternal against the hard realities ofthe marketplace.

However, in the face of continuedtough business conditions the culling outof marginal sites is a necessity for marketerswith a long-term view of the industryand to preserve their continued place init. The odds are increasingly low for dealersto be enticed into antiquated sites withsmall inside sales and even smaller storeroomsfor potential abodes. Closure andattempted sale are the only options.

For some reason, old conveniencestores do not hold the same nostalgicvalue as their retail petroleum cousins:the filling stations of bygone days. Howmany walls in countless petroleum marketers’offices across the country areadorned with graphic renderings or photosof old gas stations with dapper happypump attendants attending jolly motoristsin classic antique cars? These seeminglytired old mid-block, two-pumper, two-bayporcelain dreams will never be forgottenbecause they have become a valued partof Americana. It doesn’t matter whatpart of the country, every petro brandhas been splendidly represented backthrough the ages.

But what about the hapless c-storedogs of yesteryear? How many walls docute graphic representations of these beautiesadorn across the country? Apart fromthe assorted ancestors of today’s’ Sheetz,Wawa and other modern c-store marvels,not many is my guess.

Given the prospect that over the nextfew years we will witness an ever-increasingnumber of shuttered c-stores litteringthe highways and byways of America,it’s time that I throw down the gauntletand challenge my industry brethren toshare examples of “non-traditional” usesfor stores that have absolutely no life leftin them as retail petroleum facilities andhave no economically favorable higherand better uses as banks, drug stores oranything else. In short, I’m looking fornovel uses for the facility that warrantsso little favor or investment that removalof the existing canopy is highly questionable.If you look closely you will discoverexamples in more places than you everthought: in the guise of bogus used car lots,Starbucks and even Italian restaurantsthat use the canopy to facilitateoutdoor dining.

When submitting your contribution,please include a digital photo and, if possible,share the circumstances of the siteincluding factors that lead to eventual closuresuch as inside sales, fuel volumes, thecompetitive situation and how long thesite was one of the “walking dead” existingpast the time of its logical demise. Entriescan be emailed to my attention at mark@ppandf.biz, and I’ll try and include themin a follow-up story entitled “InnovativeUses for Old C-stores” or “A View of theElephants’ Graveyard for C-stores.”

We’ll probably never be able to duplicatethe love that our country has for oldfilling stations but maybe we can help afellow marketer recover some forgottenequity from the sale of a seemingly deadsite for a never-thought-of use.


Mark Radosevich is president ofPetro Properties &Finance, a firm thatspecializes in mergersand acquisitions,growth financing andstrategic business servicesexclusively tothe petroleum industry.He can be reachedat 305-667-0855 ext. 3 or by email atmark@ppandf.biz.

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