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    Holiday Stationstores Buys Saver Stop

    Single-store acquisition points to challenges of higher gas tax for Wisconsin retailers.

    LA CRESCENT, Minn. -- Holiday Stationstores of Bloomington, Minn., is buying a Saver Stop gasoline/convenience store in La Crescent, Minn., but plans to continue operating it as a Saver Stop, according to the La Crosse (Wis.) Tribune.

    The sale is scheduled to be completed Wednesday, said Robert Nye, Holiday vice president of human resources. The store's eight employees will be offered jobs with Holiday.

    No major changes are planned in the store's operation. "Our customers will see Holiday (brand) products for sale in the store," Nye told the Tribune.

    Holiday plans to keep the existing building as well as the Saver Stop name, Nye said. "That store has developed a great reputation in that community," he said. "We plan to continue to operate it as such." It will be Holiday's only Saver Stop store, Nye said.

    Saver Stop will continue to be a price leader in the area, Nye said. "That's something we are reviewing, and we'll need to operate the business for awhile to assess it," he said of weekly newspaper coupons that offer a price discount of 4 cents per gallon. Nye added he thinks the coupons will continue for at least the near future.

    Holiday is buying the business and the property for an undisclosed price from RNSS Marketers LLC, a local corporation that opened Saver Stop in February 2002.

    Nye said the difference between Minnesota and Wisconsin state gasoline taxes was a factor in buying the La Crescent location.

    "This may point out how difficult that tax disparity is for Wisconsin retailers near the Minnesota and Iowa borders," Bob Bartlett, president of the Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, told the Tribune. Wisconsin's state gasoline tax is 32.9 cents per gallon, while Minnesota's is about 20.1 cents per gallon, he said.

    Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle said Friday he will sign into law a gas tax provision that will lower the Wisconsin figure by 1 cent effective May 1.

    La Crescent Mayor Mike Poellinger said he wasn't surprised that Holiday found the Saver Stop location attractive. "The gas business in La Crescent has been strong for a number of years because of the difference in the gas tax between the two states," he said.

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