7-Eleven at Sugarmill Woods

Several new 7-Eleven stores /stations are in the works for Citrus County, such as this site on U.S. 19 by Sugarmill Woods in Homosassa. Other chain stores/stations are joining in the development here, such as Circle K and Wawa.

I’ve read a ton of comments from readers who are upset that Citrus County is getting all these new gas stations.

They’d rather have department stores and fancy restaurants, they say. And while I can identify, let me make the case that this influx of 7-Elevens, Wawa and Circle K stores/stations is a good thing for our county.

Last month, I was heading west on U.S. 19 heading to the Suncoast Parkway and noticed my fuel gauge was low. I really didn’t want to, but I was forced to stop at one of those stations with few gas bays and cramped conditions. Of course, my fuel rewards card didn’t work in the antiquated pump slot, so I was forced to go inside into an environment that screamed retro 1980s chic. And, of course, the gas was a dime more than the new RaceTrac and Wawa stations in Lecanto.

That’s when I found myself looking forward to these roomier, state-of-the-art gas station-convenience stores that will soon be popping up at an intersection near you. Let’s do a quick rundown of where they’re going:

  • Homosassa: two new 7-Elevens off U.S. 19 — one at the West Cardinal Street intersection, the other just north of U.S. 98.
  • Lecanto: a new Circle K at the corner of State Road 44 and Rock Crusher Road (the existing Kangaroo station will be torn down)
  • Crystal River: a new Wawa at the busy State Road 44 and U.S. 19 corner. The permits are pulled and the chain can start building anytime.
  • Inverness: yet another new 7-Eleven, this one at the corner of State Road 44 and U.S. 41 North — site of the old Bank of America.

Residents also have another reason to welcome these new chains: The competition tends to bring down the price of gas in the vicinity.

These bigger gas stations can afford to lower pump prices because they are making their money inside the expansive convenience stores that sell everything from frozen yogurt and ice cream to gourmet coffees and deli sandwiches.

In fact, an analyst told me that they can sell gas at a discount price just to lure customers inside the stores where the bigger money is made.

So, it’s not just about gas anymore. A quick stop at these newer stations and you can fill up your belly, get your car washed and load up on groceries. Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway and others want in on the action and are pairing up with gas station chains in greater numbers.

Yes, I know these places typically offer lower wages, but they are also ideal for first-time job-seekers, retired folks or anyone just seeking employment.

And when a hurricane threatens Citrus County, be thankful there will be enough gas stations available for folks to fill up. I still remember those frantic days in 2017 when Hurricane Irma prompted runs on gas stations and shortages were common.

So, the next time you read a story about yet another new gas station headed to your town, consider the benefits. Not only do they look a far sight better than many older versions, but they are often the precursor to other types of retail establishments.

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Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or mbates@chronicleonline.com.

(6) comments

sunlovesmike

With a hurricane headed our way there really can't be too many gas stations :)

CitrusCo Citizen

Mike writes: "They’d rather have department stores and fancy restaurants, they say. " Nope. You're wrong. We didnt say that. We said we'd rather have the Nature Coast back. Why are you destroying the Nature Coast's wildlife habitats, wildlife, live oak trees hundreds of years old, pristine spring and riversheds, and covering it all with cement that will promote flooding in low-lying areas, not to mention polluting the remaining wetlands and coastal waters with polluted anti-freeze and oil runoff from gas stations, all for just for more slurpees and hotdogs? Why are you promoting gas station after gas station and when will it stop-- when will the glut of gas stations be enough? Never? That, my friend is the reason why the Nature Coast is dead or dying and we now are renaming it "The Industrial Coast". You just don't get it.

ENGELINAW

[thumbup]

LEIGHD

Doesn't anyone remember the ridiculously long lines during the last hurricane scare? The few gas stations in the county ran out of gas and couldn't keep up with demand because there simply weren't enough of them. I'm perfectly fine with new gas stations, but I certainly would like better options for shopping and dining here too. I'd rather spend my money here than to go to Ocala.

TomMeador

when they run out of gas and cant get any to the new gas stations , it will be just that many more empty gas stations . the price wars you say might happen but don't forget the higher gas tax in citrus already . so the prices wont be all that low.

LO SAL

Kudos to you for this article. Well said, these new establishments are a real benefit to the community.

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