Gas station looks for new name

There is no gas at the AM/PM convenience store on Emigrant Avenue in Pendleton as owner George Bonbright looks for new partners.<BR><I>Staff photo by E.J. Harris</i>

The only AM/PM convenience store east of Portland is going out of business. But owner George Bonbright said he will soon reopen the store and service station under a new name.

Bonbright said this isn't because of the economy. Rather, it's because BP/Arco supplies all the fuel for AM/PM stations, and Bonbright wanted a new dealer. To get that, however, he said he has to get out of the AM/PM franchise, so he's torn all AM/PM references off the building and will close the business for a week or two.

"They wouldn't let me out of it unless I did," Bonbright said.

Bonbright said the closest Arco supplier is in Portland. While BP/Arco was a good supplier, Bonbright said he wanted to partner with a brand that is more active and well known in Eastern Oregon.

During a phone interview Thursday, Bonbright said he is looking at four potential partners, including Chevron-Texaco and Conoco-Phillips.

"We're going to be regrouping here pretty shortly," he said

But if he doesn't get a recognized brand, he said the station would go "un-branded." That move could save customers as much as 20 cents a gallon, he said, but working with a brand people know builds customer confidence.

"We have a better relations with our customers if we have a brand they know," he said.

Whoever Bonbright partners with, he said the company will have to be able to accept credit cards. That's a must, Bonbright said, because plenty of customers don't work only in cash.

Bonbright also is getting rid of the pre-pay gas, which was an Arco program in which customers had to pay before attendants could pump any gas. That frustrated some people, Bonbright said.

"What we're gonna do is (you) get your gas and then you pay for it," he said.

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