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    The Price Was Right

    Richard Waring, a partner in Waring Oil Co., a business he started with first cousins Dan and Howard Waring, said, "the timing was right and the stars lined up" when the three decided to sell the company's 40 Interstate Food Stop stores to The Pantry Inc. late last year.

    Richard Waring, a partner in Waring Oil Co., a business he started with first cousins Dan and Howard Waring, said, "the timing was right and the stars lined up" when the three decided to sell the company's 40 Interstate Food Stop stores to The Pantry Inc. late last year.

    Operating c-stores since 1979, Waring said he'd have to "double in size — at a minimum" to remain competitive in the Mississippi and Louisiana markets in which the stores operated. "It was the right time to get out."

    While the Vicksburg, Miss.-based chain was not actively looking for a buyer, The Pantry approached the Warings with a generous offer. "We thought we'd never sell, but when the price is right . . ."

    All of the employees in the stores, which generated total revenue of approximately $100 million in 2004, were kept by The Pantry, which was a plus, Waring added.

    Now, though he remains a partner in Waring Oil, Waring doesn't see himself ever getting back into the c-store industry. And, he added, no one else in the family was yearning to operate the stores.

    Many distributors are getting out the c-store business, he said, "because it's just so darn-gum hard making money selling gasoline now, that's for sure. And then you have the liability," he noted.

    Waring Oil will continue to supply its network of approximately 50 dealer and industrial lubricant accounts, the ex-retailer said, noting lubricants is a business that keeps growing. "We'll concentrate on growing this side of the business now."

    While other petroleum marketers are exploring ethanol and other alternative fuels, Warning has no plans to do the same. "We'll stick with petroleum products."

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