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.