Coming Soon! A New Lou Perrine’s Gas & Grocery

Coming Soon! A New Lou Perrine’s Gas & Grocery

Q&A with Anthony Perrine, third generation Kenosha gas station owner of Lou Perrine’s

There was a time in the not so distant past, when on occasion you might see 2 to 3 gasoline stations sharing the same intersection. Those days of multiple locations are long gone, however many of  these structures can still be seen standing, retrofitted with a different use in mind.
We recently reached out to Anthony Perrine, owner of Lou Perrine’s Gas & Groceries for an update on their newest acquisition. Located at corner of 22nd avenue and 80th street in Kenosha, Anthony plans on breaking ground on a new Lou Perrine’s Gas & Groceries. In a previous life the site served as a Mobil gas station.
We wanted to know Anthony’s take on the adjoining story about the community of Petaluma, California. It’s where city leaders recently enacted a new ordinance that effectively prevents another gasoline station from ever being built in their community.
Despite a very hectic schedule, Anthony was nice enough to sit down for this brief Q&A.

Q. If you were able to predict the future, do you foresee many more traditional gasoline stations/convenience stores being built in Southeastern Wisconsin taking into consideration the growing promise and popularity of electric vehicles?

A. There is actually a shortage of available gas stations for sale in the market.  I see traditional gas stations to continue being built across the country.  Many people doubt the ability for EV to take over the market and gas stations are often purchased as recession proof 1031 exchange options for those trying to push the tax burden from the sale of a prior business or property.  There is mass consolidation in our industry from the big boys.  7-11 just closed their deal taking over 3,000 Speedways and if you drive throughout the state, almost every city has a Kwik Trip getting built.  The days of new retailers entering the market are gone but you will continue to see consolidation and expansion from the existing brands.

Q. In Petaluma, California city leaders have banned the construction of any new gasoline stations based on environmental concerns, is this a valid argument?

A. It’s California. They are their own country over there at this point.  That city is basically suburb of San Fransisco.  They have a very progressive government the’re and very progressive residents that live their.  With a wealthy population, EV’s make more sense for them as a community.  Do I think it’s a good idea?  I have no idea, if the residents want it then I guess it is. The good news is for existing store owners, it’s less direct competition and allows for them raise prices and make more money.
I laugh at the environmental argument because the production of an EV vehicle is still not “good” for the environment.  The massive amount of natural resources that are needed for these vehicles are scarce and often in third world countries.  You have labor law concerns, the equipment getting the natural resources out of the ground cause environmental concerns,  and at the end of the day you using a massive amount of electricity that the US grid can’t handle.  We see EV being the cool craze right now because it’s “Sexy” and the US government has basically picked their energy source of the future.  Therefore the ungodly amount of liquidity has pushed this indrustry forward 10 years in the span of 6 months.
When it is all said and done, the real enviormental play is carbon recapture and hydrogren.  Look at the partnerships that WalMart and Amazon are working on with Plug Power and their over the road trucks.  This will be the next craze to compete with EV and a slowly declining gas market.

Q.  In a companion story the EVA is projecting that by 2030 7% of the vehicles on the road will be electric, will we begin to see gasoline
stations close or will they be able to reinvent themselves?
A.  Guys like me will evolve.  Older owners have been exiting the market in droves.  The adaptation of EV will ultimately be determeind by geographical location, economic medians for those cities, and how much money the federal or state governments fork out for traditional gas stations to help lower the cost of entering the EV market.

Q. When you purchased your new future south side site it included the existing building which you ultimately tore down. What was the reason for demolition?

A. We tore it down for a few reasons.  First, I’m cheap and want to save money.  We thought by keeping half the building it would ultimately lower our costs, but due to the poor design and shape of that old building it was going to cost us around the same amount of money to refurbish it versus build new.  So that played into the thought process but there were a few other factors.  The Piggly Wiggly closing down and the unlikeliness of another grocery store opening up there opened up an opportunity for quick grab and go groceries so we needed more square footage.  Then the final decision was made when Kwik Trip bought PDQ and decided to rebuild that location down the road.  We decided to add a Quick Serve Restraunt to that location which required more space.  Stay tuned for the announcment of who we are bringing into that site.
We are salvaging the canopy and that is due to the massive spike in steel prices.  It would save us about $80,000 to give that a facelift instead of tearing it down and building it new.

Q. When do you anticipate beginning construction?  What is your timeframe for completion?

A. Fingers crossed we are hoping to start late June and get open by October.  We would love to have a grand opening the month of our 67th anniversary!!!!

Q. Since you purchased the new south side site Kwik Trip has embarked on expansion of its location 17 blocks to the west as well as the likelihood of a new station on 39th and 85th Street. Has that altered your plans or course of action?

I’m not worried about the store on 39th and 85th.  They are on a different cross path than us and they had a lot of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).  Kwik Trip is the 10,000 pound gorilla in the room and anytime they are within a mile or two it is scary, but at the end of the day they are a giant corporation now.  They are no different than a Wal-Mart or Speedway.  Kenosha knows that the local businesses are the anchors in this community and we believe that our loyalty program, the added restaurant, and our community involvement will help us stay competitive.  At the end of the day, I like to fight.  Competition is great and always welcomed.  So let’s get ready to rumble!

Q. Will there be a food presence with your new location?

A. Yes to be announced later

Q.  In your industry the trade publications have heralded you as a visionary, what does the future look like five years from now? What about ten years out?

A. 5 years from now we will see continued consolidation.  Hell, I would be as bold to say that Kwik Trip will get some offers from some of the even bigger guys to purchase their locations, supply chain, etc.  You will see many stores get away from their “big oil brands” and begin trying to go out on their own.  Big Oil is going to lose massive market share and begin cutting back on kickbacks and incentives.  The smart retailers will quickly try to grab any money available for implementing EV.
In 10 years, I see 20% of vehicles being EV on the road.  The big car makers have already committed to only making EV or transitioning most of their vehicle production to EV so new car buyers will have no choice but I predict a BIG MARKET for used cars as many people will like to stick with a traditional combustion engine.  Gas stations that haven’t already, will have no choice but to add more items that make them a destination instead of convenience. Food service, grocery stores, coffee shops, etc.

Q. What year did you purchase Lou Perrine’s Gas & Groceries from  your father?

A. 2010

Q.  There is no such thing as do overs in life but if given the chance what would you do differently if given that opportunity

A. No Ragrets….not even a letter 🙂

Q&A by Frank Carmichael,
Photos by Donny Stancato
This article first appeared in the 5/20/21 issue of the Smart Reader)