Creekside Convenience celebrated their twentieth year in business on August 1st of this year. Through the expansions and remodeling and changes in fuel providers, the business model and commitment to customer service and concerns for community needs remains at the center of their attention.
Dawn Hill and Jeff Hill built the present site in Spring and Summer of 2001. It was not their first business, however, as they owned a trucking company which ran from 1995 to 2015. Before the present business was built by the Hills, it was Paitel Citgo station and was on the same site at 132 W. 3rd Street in Owen.
Said Jeff, “There was actually a gas station on this site for many, many years. It was owned by the Weinbergers first, I think.” Indeed, Bill and Tillie Weinberger opened Jasper’s Self-Service Gas Station in 1971. The name Jasper was their dog’s name. That station was then sold to Eddie and Kay Roller before being purchased by Doris and Dave Paitel who also owned the bulk fuel business now owned by Terry Pawlukiewicz, according to Dawn and Jeff.
“Doris had an itty-bitty Clark station here that couldn’t make a go of it,” said Dawn. Jeff then added, “It was only 1,400 square feet concrete block structure that was really tight up against the street. In fact, the building was where our fuel pumps now stand.”
Jeff and Dawn bought the Paitel’s business in February of 2001. The day after closing, they demolished the structure and began building the present store.
“Doris had closed her store in October of 2000. She had locked the doors and was in a bankruptcy foreclosure situation,” Jeff described. “Then we bought it from here while she was in the middle of the foreclosure proceedings.”
They bought, demolished, rebuilt and reopened in less than six months.
“When we opened, we opened with a quick-serve restaurant being Hot Stuff Pizza™, hard-scoop ice cream, those have been staples that have been here since day one,” Jeff explained. “But what has evolved is that we started with Citgo, went to Cenex, and are now with Shell. Most petroleum contracts are seven to ten years, so you have the option of changing. So, we changed that imaging.
“But on the inside of the building, we have changed the floorplan, changed the ‘mouse-maze’ so to speak of how things are.”
“The beer cave,” Dawn interjected.
“Yeah, the beer cave,” Jeff agreed. “We added the beer cave about seven years ago and then we put all the coolers and freezers in when we went with Shell. Originally, where the coolers are now, there was a coffee island but we removed that island and went to a coffee bar along the wall. We put in some gondola shelving but even removed those for the coolers.”
“But we also went from just pizzas to subs,” Dawn added.
It has been a constantly evolving scenario for Dawn and Jeff. Asked if they have any plans for future developments, both of them said, “Always.”
“We’ve got several ideas on how we can expand or develop the site to bring on more offerings,” Jeff cautiously commented, “so I think there is going to be some new growth in the future, without tipping our hand, and we probably would have already seen some of those things come into play if it hadn’t been for COVID.
“And then you have to look at what your community needs, the changing demographics, and what can we do to adapt to those needs within the community.”
Jeff expounded, “In this business of retail, if you’re not changing every seven years, making noticeable changes to your customer base, you are out of the game.”
What was the effect of Dollar General opening across the street? Jeff answered, “That gave us an opportunity to expand our offerings to complement their offerings, not duplicate but complement. We added fresh fruit, vegetables and meat.”
“We added liquor,” Dawn went on.
“Yes,” Jeff agreed. “And the not-so-secret secret is that you are not going to make a big profit out of one thing. It is a combination of many things making smaller profit. Variety brings in customers.”
That is how a successful business continues to thrive in the face of perceived competition. Instead of fighting a losing price battle, offer what the competition doesn’t have. Sun Tzu wrote in the Art of War, “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” Or, as the Baltimore Orioles’ Wee Willie Keeler said, “Hit ‘em where they ain’t.”
The Sentinel & Rural News covers the news and events of Clark County and southern Taylor County, as well as regional news that affects those areas.