Alex Little won’t stop fueling up at his local BP station any time soon, despite the oil spill plaguing the Gulf of Mexico, and according to convenience store officials, he’s making the right decision.
Little, a 24-year-old Gainesville resident, has pumped gas at the Circle M Food Shop on Old Cornelia Highway for as long as he’s been driving.
“It’s kind of close to my house, so I usually stop by here,” Little said as he pumped diesel fuel into his red Ford truck. “The employees (of the convenience stores), they don’t have any control over (the spill).”
Even as groups of protesters along the Gulf rally against BP products, Angie Shockley, manager at the Circle M store, hasn’t seen such a response at her shop.
“I can’t really see a difference,” Shockley said. “We have a lot of repeat customers that are very loyal.”
She said she received information from her corporate office regarding possible protests, “just to keep employees informed,” but she trusts her customers will keep coming back.
According to Jim Tudor, president of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores, boycotting a BP station may not have the desired effect.
“You’re not hurting BP,” he said. “You’re hurting someone in your community.”
He said most BP gas stations are independently owned, and when customers choose not to buy a station’s gas, they hurt the independent owner, not the BP corporation. Clipper Petroleum Inc. owns the Circle M Food Shops in the area.
Tudor also said consumers should be aware that the gas they buy might still be from BP, even if it isn’t labeled that way, as BP sells both branded and unbranded products.
For Tudor, the most important step service station owners can take is continually reminding customers that their stores are locally owned.
“Even though they are angry and may be thinking they’re hurting BP, they’re really just hurting people in Hall County,” he said.
John Stringer, an East Hall resident getting gas at the Old Cornelia Highway Circle M, has a similar perspective.
He’s been a customer at that station for the last four or five years, and he plans to keep it that way.
“I’m sure (the spill) bothers everybody,” he said, “but me not buying gas isn’t going to put an end to it.”