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    From Auto Repair Shop to C-store

    Ghirmai Abraha just opened a new Circle K store on his Maple Valley, Wash., site.

    MAPLE VALLEY, Wash. -- Roughly a year after deciding his auto repair shop was no longer financially viable, the owner of a 76 gas station on Route 169 and Kent-Kangley Road here opened a Circle K store on the site last week, according to the Covington Reporter.

    Construction on the store started on March 8. Owner Ghirmai Abraha, 42, told the newspaper that the station's auto repair shop was "not good business. It was really slow."

    Now, he hopes the renovations he made and the new Circle K store will help draw customers.

    "It's bigger, cleaner and has a nice image," Abraha said, noting that he chose to open a Circle K because he believes it has a good brand name and product offering.

    The renovation work was done by AMR Environmental, a construction company based in Port Orchard, specializing in gas stations and convenience stores.

    "We took it all the way down to its structural points, and then built everything new around it," said Alan Roberts, manager at AMR Environmental.

    The store's exterior and interior both have molded rock facades. The coffee, Froster and soda signs replicate those of the 1920s and 1930s. The back wall has a blown-up graphic of the first gas station built in Maple Valley by Standard Oil, according to the report.

    "They wanted the Taj Mahal and they got it," Roberts said.

    Abraha bought the store in 2002. He came to the U.S. in 1996 from East Africa.

     

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