Tuesday, June 29, 2010

BP's Mom & Pop Myth

by Dick Mac

Most gas stations make very little money selling gas. The mark-up is embarrassingly small. When you fill-up your tank, the gas station probably earns a buck or two - maximum. Gas station owners make their money on repair shops or retail outlets on the property.

There has been a call for boycotting BP, because of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, BP's failure to fix their mess, and their cavalier attitude about the situation.

The boycott movement has been pretty successful, and there has been much favorable coverage int he mainstream media. The primary virtual gathering spot for the boycott movement has been the BoycottBP Facebook page.

BP has taken action against the boycott and convinced Facebook to delete the page because the owner had used BP's logo in the group's boycott banner. BP is totally within its rights to fight against logo infringement. Facebook deleted the group, and then facing dramatic public pressure, restored it.

I hope that "Bayou Lee," an emotional writer whose dedication to saving the gulf is clear in his posts, will change the banner so it is no longer a copyright infringement.

BP apologists, you know the type: teabaggers who think everything the government says is wrong and everything a corporation says is gospel-truth, are putting forward the argument that a boycott of BP brands doesn't hurt BP, it only hurts the "mom and pop" gas stations. This is, of course, a silly argument.

Here are some excerpts from BP's franchisee requirements:

Becoming a BP am/pm franchisee

What are the Real Estate Specifications for an ampm Franchise Branded Location?
Preferred real estate site specifications for an ampm franchise:
Hard corner with a 40,000 - 60,000 square foot pad
30,000 + Accessible daily traffic count @ intersection
18,000 + Daytime population (2 mile radius) ; 13,000 + Households (2 mile radius)

What are the Minimum Financial Requirements to Obtain a Franchise?
The estimated liquid capital required is $700,000 - $1,000,000 based on an estimated investment of $1,787,704- $7,595,178 which includes the costs for real estate. A good credit record / credit history is also required, evidenced by prompt payment of all financial obligations.

Will BP Finance the Cost of Developing Franchises?
We offer some assistance and incentives for qualifying candidates. You can learn more about this if you qualify.

That's one well-off mom and pop!

I suspect that there are very few moms and pops with an extra million bucks laying around who have chosen to spend that extra million bucks to become gas station franchisees.

I could be wrong, of course; but I don't think I am.

BP franchises are not owned by moms and pops, like some quaint Norman Rockwell painting, they are owned by investors who are now suffering because of their decision to do business with BP. We all make our own beds and we all pay the price when things go poorly. These investors have chosen poorly and they will suffer the inconvenience of a boycott.

BP brands include bp gas stations, ARCO, ARAL, Castrol, ampm, and Wild Bean Coffee.

Boycott all BP products!

An effective way to pressure a corporation is to pressure its shareholders. This is a chart I built outlining the top 10 institutional and retirement fund holders of BP stock.

Click for a larger image

Please consider contacting any of these companies with which you do business and ask them to divest of BP stock.


The Boycott BP Facebook page.


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