Friday, October 30, 2020

A New Beginning for Marathon Kwik Stop


Although gas prices had increased, the first few weeks after Hurricane Irma the Smiths lowered their prices for the community to fuel up. Photos by Jesus Calo

Although gas prices had increased, the first few weeks after Hurricane Irma the Smiths lowered their prices for the community to fuel up. Photos by Jesus Calo

It is not often that you hear new business owners say that they have relocated from Vermont, but that is exactly what Jim and Heather Smith did.

The Smiths are the new owners of the Marathon Kwik Stop Gas station on the corner of San Marco and Barfield on Marco Island. They have officially been in business since January 2017. You may have already seen them tending to the convenience store’s daily operations, serving freshly prepared foods, or welcoming patrons outside from the picnic tables.

From left: Jim, Jermaine, Amaya, and Heather Smith sit outside and welcome guests to the convenience store.

From left: Jim, Jermaine, Amaya, and Heather Smith sit outside and welcome guests to the convenience store.

Over a year ago, the Smiths relocated down south after extensively researching the area’s customer service market. Their life experiences and familiarity with Marco Island is what lead them to make the big move.

Heather Smith has vacationed on Marco since she was about eight years old, and has visited seasonally ever since. Heather discovered that both she and her husband aspired to own their own business. She was an energy efficiency engineer and familiar with gas consumption. Jim had experience with convenience stores and human resource management, making this the perfect step for the family of four.

Amid their search for the right place to own, they were torn between two locations: Vermont and Marco Island. Paradise won.

A big factor in the move was the small city factor that is familiar to the Smiths, as they both grew up in small towns. Their two children, ages six and seven have adjusted to the new school uniforms at Tommie Barfield Elementary and the warmer weather.

Although they have only vacationed here for three weeks at a time annually, they felt right at home after the official move. Marco Island has a “hometown” feel, which allows them to get to know their customers, some of whom stop in up to three times a day. In fact, they try to know every single one by name. Their goal is to provide excellent customer service.

The transition to Marco was welcomed with Irma, their first hurricane experience. They evacuated, but not before making sure that the community was provided enough gas and supplies.

Before Irma, Marathon Kwik Stop had pump lines that backed up onto San Marco Road, but the Smiths took the time to walk out and talk with their customers and offer them water.

The station reduced its gas prices during the period following the hurricane and made donations to disaster relief causes. They were happy to take part in Marco’s recovery with a donation of about 18 cases of Gatorade, plenty of water, and other miscellaneous supplies.

“Thankfully, there was no major damage to the store itself,” Jim stated. “But it was a learning curve for what to expect for next time.”

Without damage to the building, the Smiths continue their renovations to the convenience store. Some improvements customers may have already noticed include new shelves, new food items, and new cooking equipment. New “TV” monitor screens will soon be installed at each pump.

During the interview, the Smiths would pause and welcome customers that walked in after a fuel-up at the pump. They were met with smiles and happy responses. “We are accepting of every kind of person no matter what walk of life. Without narrowing a focus to a specific customer.” Heather stated. “We like to hear our customer’s feedback.”

Stop in at 1767 San Marco to welcome Jim and Heather as your neighborhood convenience store and gas station. Call 239-389-2029 to hear their daily food items and place an order.

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