By Tim Steller for the Arizona Daily Star
Across Tucson, the service-station industry is going through a shake-out. About two dozen gas stations have closed since the beginning of 2010, many of them independent shops with local owners.
Owners cited a variety of factors, but perhaps the most direct one is the arrival of the conquistadores from Oklahoma, QuikTrip. The Tulsa-based company opened its first Tucson-area store in January 2010 and has put up 12 more since. Another three are under construction.
“They’re not building a station in order to capture new market,” said Robert Mahlstede, who was president of a local company that owned 17 Catalina Mart stations before selling them last year. “They’re clearly and totally coming in to take share away from someone else.”
Now neighbors are faced with eyesores that could last years. Some stations, like an old Exxon at the corner of E. Broadway Blvd. and Camino Seco, remain fenced-off and unused after six years or more.
Neighbors of closed stations, such as Chuck Mitchell, have to simply bear the aggravation of the vacated lots. Mitchell owns the House of Hubcaps at 2745 N. First Ave. Next door is a lot that Circle K recently left in favor of a large new station a few blocks up the street at First and Fort Lowell streets. Across the street is the graffiti-covered shell of the Quick Pic #2.
“It degrades the area,” Mitchell said, leaving the impression that it is “unsafe and going downhill.”
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