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MAKIKI, Hawaii -- Warren Higa, owner of Makiki Shell and Manoa Chevron, is closing his Makiki service station after 24 years, saying Shell forced him out by tripling his rent.
"The oil company has tripled our rent in the past three years," Higa told the Pacific (Hawaii) Business News. "I cannot pay Shell what they want."
The gas station/convenience store employs 20, some of whom will transfer to Higa's Manoa store, and has more than 10,000 customers. One of them is Hawaii state Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who says he remembers when Higa was a part-time gas attendant at the station in the 1960s.
"Warren was the only one who could fix the '39 Buick coupe I paid $50 for," the congressman said.
Independent service station owners across the United States have complained since the 1970s that oil companies were easing them out of business because there is more money to be made in selling gas at a convenience store instead of a garage. "That's what oil companies are doing, driving the station dealers out of business to maximize profit and minimize human contact," " Abercrombie said.
Higa says he remembers to the day when the trend began. "Fifteen years ago Shell painters showed up to repaint our station with a more modern color scheme." He said the first thing they did was paint out the words, "Service is our business."