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    Huck's Ready to Start Growing Again

    Southern Illinois-based c-store chain looking to get back on expansion track.

    CARMI, Ill. – Huck's, the 102-store convenience chain based here, opened a new store this year in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood, Mo., and has two others under construction elsewhere in St. Louis County and in Owensboro, Ky.

    And, according to Todd Jenney, CEO of Huck's parent, Martin & Bayley Inc. (M&B), the company hopes to begin construction of another Owensboro store this year and may add convenience stores in Murray and Lone Oak (a Paducah suburb) later this year. Jenney, speaking last week at a luncheon meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Carmi, said M&B would like to add four or five new stores a year for the next few years, according to the Carmi Times.

    The company, which operates in five states, would also like to buy a good chain of 10 to 15 convenience stores, he reportedly told the club.

    According to the report, Jenney acknowledged: "We've pruned our garden," referring to the reduction in store count from 140 stores in 2000 to the present 102 stores. It was "the wise thing to do," he said, crediting fellow M&B executive Jim Whetstone for his work in that endeavor.

    Most of the products sold in the Huck's stores are distributed from the M&B warehouse in Carmi, and the firm distributes Huck's or Sure gasoline to about 75 percent of its stores (all but one of which sell fuel), as well as some BP and Citgo stations, said the Carmi Times.

    Huck's is known for its Bigg Swigg and Daybreak Café, and it is ramping up its Gas for Gifts program, offering a nickel per gallon off on the price of gasoline purchased through the program, according to the report. More than 20 of its stores offer Godfather's pizza and the chain is known for its Huck's Fried Chicken. Some stores also offer some breakfast items and made-to-order sandwiches through its Grillin' Zone, said the report.

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