Skip to comments.Unfulfilling stations -- Citgo boycott leads owners to drop Venezuelan supplier
Posted on 03/04/2008 7:54:39 AM PST by SmithL
The Bush administration may be trying to ignore Hugo Chavez, but some local gas station owners are moving to protect themselves from the backlash against the Venezuelan president's anti-American rhetoric.
Calls by some across the country to boycott gasoline sold by Venezuelan-owned Citgo are cutting into sales, prompting some station owners to move to other suppliers.
George Vazquez, owner of a convenience store and gas station on Kingston Pike in West Knoxville, is among several local independent Citgo station operators who will be switching to Marathon Oil of Findlay, Ohio, in the coming weeks.
"My gas sales were down 30 percent last year," Vazquez said. "People will come into the store and buy groceries, but they tell me they won't buy gas from Citgo."
The problems with Citgo increased after Chavez's September 2006 visit to the United Nations where he referred to President Bush as "the devil."
Calls for boycotts of Citgo were heard in states from Massachusetts to Florida following Chavez's U.N. visit. Shortly after the U.N. speech, 7-Eleven stores announced they would cancel a 20-year contract with Citgo that supplied 2,100 stations. Several Internet sites also are devoted to promoting the boycott.
Vazquez said he began negotiations with Marathon late last year after discussing his problems with other Citgo station owners. He decided that the anti-Chavez sentiment was translating into a growing anti-Citgo sentiment among customers.
"The problem is not Citgo; the problem is who owns Citgo," he said. "I decided we needed to change brands."
Citgo, based in Houston, is owned by PDV America Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the national oil company of Venezuela.
"All of our stations are independently owned," said Annabell Lopez-Curtis, spokeswoman for Citgo in Houston. "They make their own decisions."
Banners at Vazquez's store proclaimed the switch to "American-owned" Marathon. A lighted sign visible from Kingston Pike declared "Hugo Chavez you are out of here."
Vazquez, who immigrated to the United States from Argentina 32 years ago, said he is not trying to make a political statement against Chavez but that he is only responding to the sentiments of his customers.
Tom Yoskovich, who works at Gridley Auto Sales next door to Vazquez's store, said he has been happy to buy coffee and other things from the store but reluctant to buy Citgo gasoline because of the connection to Chavez.
"I won't buy Citgo," Yoskovich said. "Once he (Vazquez) switches to Marathon, I'll be happy to buy his gas."
Ohio-based Marathon is gaining strength in Tennessee. The number of Marathon stations in Tennessee increased from 84 to 103 between March and December 2007, said Marathon spokeswoman Linda Casey.
The new Marathon stations have converted from a variety of other brands, including Citgo, but there is a clear trend with Citgo gas retailers, Casey said.
"There has been a reaction to our friend Chavez," she said. "It's hurting their business."
Vazquez hangs a banner at his gas station and convenience store advertising the switch in fuel suppliers to "American owned Marathon" from Venezuelan-owned Citgo. Vazquez says his gas sales were down 30 percent last year because of a Citgo boycott precipitated by anti-American remarks by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Dude, I wish I were taking a trip through Ohio just so I can give you some business...and I’ll bet he’ll see the real Republicans in Findlay make sure he turns a tidy profit - that sign alone would bring me in.
Thanks. Best news I’ve heard in days.
I quit filling up at my local citgo over a year ago. It costs me a couple of bucks but hey,
I haven’t bought Citgo gas in years.
I never patronize Citgo and I spread the word as best I can.
I’ve represented the regional dealers’ association since 1980. The guys are shedding CITGO as fast as they can. At least in this part of the country, business is way down for CITGO branded service station locations and C-Stores. In one sense its a shame because CITGO was a good flag to fly and a good company to have a franchise relationship with in the old days. Of all the major refiners, CITGO was the one I had the least trouble with concerning terminations and non-renewals of those franchises.
Pleased to hear the boycott is having an effect.
“My gas sales were down 30 percent last year,” Vazquez said. “People will come into the store and buy groceries, but they tell me they won’t buy gas from Citgo.”
Awesome! Answers my doubts as to whether there are American patriots beyond the echo chamber of FR. That’s a lot of people quietly choosing to take their business elsewhere. No hysterical rants or destructive demonstrations as the libs would do - just everyday working Janes and Joes who decided they’d had enough disrespect.
He is in Ten. isn’t he. Marathon oil is headquartered in Findlay Ohio.
I don’t know of any Sh*tgo stations around here. I would willing pay a few more cents at another station before I would shop them. Good move by this station owner.
My son goes to UT Knoxville. I just sent him this article and told him to buy gas there if he’s close. GO VAZQUEZ! GO MARATHON!
If Marathon were close by, I’d buy it, but I haven’t seen one in Shelby/Fayette counties...
I live about 30 miles from Knoxville, and am often there and on Kingston Pike. My next trip there I’m visiting this store and thanking the owner, will buy my gas there.
Here in the rural town I live there is one Citgo (which I refuse to do business with) and it has to be going under, I rarely see a customer there.
Dont forget about Hess. Huggy owns half. Look up HOVENSA. Is there anything in America not for sale?
I MUCH prefer Tennesee to Ohio.
Bristol, for starters.
Joe Kennedy must be bumming.
Our local Citgo went under 6 months ago. It was in a prime location.
Then let's turn our attention to Hess, if warranted. One step at a time. The domino effect, if you will.
Hess operators may then wise up if Citgo disappears from the American highways and byways.
Can you post some wee bit of info on HOVENSA for those who don't have time to look it up?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.