Exxon station to return to old site with store added

July 21, 1995|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

The only corner of Ritchie Highway and Jumpers Hole Road without a gas station soon will be getting one. But one of the occupied corners will become unoccupied.

The Crossroads Exxon station, which three years ago moved from the southeast corner to the northeast corner of the intersection during a bitter fight between the oil company and the station owner, is moving back to its former site.

Rus Warfel, a lawyer who represents Exxon, said the company decided to move back because the original location has more space. In addition to the gas pumps, Exxon will have a convenience store and a car wash on the site.

"They would obviously do better at a larger site with more services for their customer than at a smaller site," he said, adding that once the station is relocated, Exxon will close the existing station and sell the land.

Owners and employees of the Shell and Amoco gas stations on the west side of Ritchie Highway said they aren't sure what to make of the new competitor. Each of the gas stations has

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vTC convenience store, and the Shell station also has a car wash.

"We can't decide if it's going to hurt us or not," said Pat Abernathy, who is part owner of the Crossroads Shell station. "It can. If they have like a really supersonic car wash, I guess it will. It's hard to be unique in the gas business."

Jim Stewart, an employee of the Jumpers Hole Amoco, said he's concerned about the new station cutting into profits from his gas station's convenience store. When the new station is built, Amoco's store will likely be the smallest of the three, he said.

"I think it might hurt us," Mr. Stewart said. "It's a bigger place, they're putting more stuff in there. You don't make that much pumping gas."

But Loretta Travel, a co-worker, doesn't think Mr. Stewart should be concerned.

"It's not on this side of the road," she said. "I'm not worried about it."

The move by Exxon back to its original site represents the end of a battle between the oil giant and a small businessman.

Jim Munroe owned the Crossroads Exxon for four years. Sometime during his ownership, he began buying gasoline from independent oil companies and selling it for less than the Exxon brands. Before he closed the station he was selling gas for less than $1 a gallon.

Mr. Munroe put notices on the gas pumps informing customers that the gasoline was not an Exxon product, but his actions angered Exxon, which noted that Mr. Munroe still displayed an Exxon sign over.

Shortly afterward, Exxon quadrupled the rent on a second station he operated in Sun Valley and delayed reimbursing him for credit card purchases, he claimed.

Mr. Munroe sued Exxon, and Exxon sued him, charging that he had not paid his bills. He left the station July 10, 1992. Exxon bought the smaller property across the street and opened a station there, leaving its original site vacant.

Mr. Munroe filed his suit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Mr. Warfel said Mr. Munroe lost his suit and all his appeals.

Exxon also is hoping to make another change in Pasadena. The changes are an attempt to unify the look of its gas stations by putting in convenience stores and canopies over the pumps, said Mr. Warfel.

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