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    NRC Closes Clark Sale

    Auction of 584 stores nets $187.17 million, ends the company's more than 70-year history in the Midwest.

    CHICAGO -- National Real Estate Clearinghouse (NRC), a Chicago-based firm specializing in accelerated sales of commercial real estate, on Thursday completed the closing of 584 Clark convenience stores and gas stations for $187.17 million.

    The sites were sold to 230 separate buyers, mostly individuals who bought one or two sites. The purchasers who bought the most sites are Baker Energy, a Kentucky-based retailer, and Mac's Convenience Stores Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Alimentation Couche-Tard.

    Clark Retail Enterprises Inc., which ranked 14th on last year's Convenience Store News list of Top 50 Convenience Store Companies, fell on hard times and filed for bankruptcy in October 2002.

    The sale represents the end of the company that started in 1932 when Emory T. Clark, a general contractor by trade, opened the first Clark gasoline station in Milwaukee. Clark built the brand throughout the upper Midwest during the middle of the century. By the late 1970s Clark had established a strong market reputation for the sale of high-octane gasoline at discount prices. The Clark brand and gas credit card will continue with licensed jobbers in five states: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

    In the past year, NRC sold close to 1400 service stations and convenience stores in 22 states, including the Clark sites and more than 520 for Swifty Serve convenience stores, of Durham, NC, for more than $420 million.

    "The Clark and Swifty Serve bankruptcies are a direct result of fierce competition from big box retailers selling gas, such as Wal-Mart, Costco and Safeway. It is also due to the collapse of the secondary mortgage market for convenience store loans," said Evan Gladstone, NRC's managing director.

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