Au Revoir, Forest Lakes & Hydraulic Markets?

I try to not trade in rumors, but this is one that has been confirmed by two three sources.

Charlottesville may soon have two fewer Markets, and two more national chains. The homogenization continues. What a loss for Charlottesville.

The beauty of the Markets – gourmet gas stations which really areironically delicious ” – the original one at Bellair, the newest one on 29 at the corner of Greenbrier, the one at Hydraulic and 29, the one on 5th Street Extended and the ones at Forest Lakes and Mill Creek – is that they are decidedly Charlottesville. They are gas stations that serve great sandwiches. Roast beef? Good pasta and potato salad? And they’re clean and inviting and great to go to.

I received this email over the weekend from a customer of the Markets: (Note to Tiger Fuel: If I’m wrong, please correct me)

I recently discovered Tiger Fuel’s Forest Lakes Market will close. I had heard the rumor and asked at the store if it was true – yes, the company is selling the store to 7-11!

Some of my more immediate complaints: there goes my lunch spot; no more Mudhouse(?!). Why sell this wonderful store? Why would a local business, asking us to support locally, sell to a national corporation? On the outside it’s just another gas station with signs telling me about their Pepsi promotions. Why not advertise the things that make you special; the food, the espresso? I know the store has been around a while and that part of town has only grown commercially with very few new homes. But why back out now? Do you agree that area is due for the next big home growth once the market is back in sync?

And even worse is that Charlottesville/Albemarle is already expanding much like Northern Virginia, especially the 29N area. The drive is just one national business after another. From Lowe’s to Wal-Mart to McDonalds to another of each just up the road. Am I in Charlottesville or Manassas? Forest Lakes Market is the type business that separates Charlottesville from other places. It’s what gives that neighborhood something special. I’d guess it gives a realtor (and home buyer) something to claim as his own. I doubt a 7-11 does the same. Boo-hoo Tiger Fuel.

Courtesy of the Market at Forest Lakes

I’m glad I copied the bulk of this article in 2005 from the New York Post because their link is bad:

While it’s an unlikely culinary revolution, Slim Jims are making way for sushi as gas station convenience stores transform themselves with upscale eats and shed their image as junk food pit stops.

It’s an attempt by the industry to discourage the gas-up-and-go mentality and bolster the bottom line with artisanal cheeses, freshly baked breads and high-end meals that entice consumers to linger and eat — and to do it often.

“We’re trying to make these stores destinations rather than convenience stops,” said Stuart Lowry, marketing director for The Markets of Tiger Fuel, a Virginia convenience chain that offers fresh seafood, a fancy deli and professional chefs.

As I said then:

The Charlottesville area has had these for over a decade. Roast beef, fantastic sandwiches, wine, microbrews, coffee kiosks … My clients are usually blown away when we stop by a “gourmet gas station”!

While I share some of the writer’s sentiments, I’d rather focus on their current contributions to the economy and to the culture of Charlottesville for the past 20+ years as a resident, customer and Realtor in Charlottesville. My clients, to a person, love the Markets, and I love taking them there – they are always positively surprised that our gas stations have such great atmospheres (really!) and food.

I may sound a bit elitist, but given the choice between a snack or sandwich and a cup of Mudhouse Coffee at a Market or a chili dog and a fountain drink at a 7-11, I’ll choose the former every day of the week.

There will still be several markets in Charlottesville, but one less piece of Charlottesville on 29 North. You can see Targets, Starbucks, Dairy Queens and Walgreens anywhere. The Market is a piece of Charlottesville.

* Updated: I had the second Market wrong – it’s the Hydraulic rather than Mill Creek location.

Update #2The Newsplex reports on the pending 7-11 deal.

From the Newsplex comments:

Steve, thanks for your comment. Tiger went to great pains to explain to me that this isn’t a “sale”. They’re simply leasing their store space to 7-11 to brand and manage. That doesn’t mean some of the issues you mention won’t surface but just want to point out that Tiger says this isn’t necessarily permanent. Jim, the Newsplex News Director

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  • http://www.smallchichome.com/ Jeannine @ Small & Chic Home

    Ah ha! You were just testing us when you asked for a good sandwich shop on 29 North the other day. I tweeted back and couldn’t fathom how you didn’t know about The Market up there!

    • http://www.realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

      I *love* the Market(s) and their sandwiches are outstanding. This is a damn shame. A 7-11? I’ll never go.

      • http://www.smallchichome.com/ Jeannine @ Small & Chic Home

        Rick’s location at Forest Lakes is always my stop for a drink and snack on my way up to DC. If it becomes a 7-11, I’ll have no reason to stop there for gas.

        • http://www.realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

          Agreed. If it becomes a 7-11, I’ll never go.

  • Rick

    Jim – you heard correctly, Tiger Fuel is in discussion w/ selling the 29N Market (Forest Lakes) as well as the Hydraulic store (Town & Country) to 7-11. But I was told today that *no contract has been signed*. This may happen, it may not. And for those who ask, none of the other locations are being sold. Rick, manager of Forest Lakes Market

    • http://www.realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

      Thanks for the update, Rick.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mary-Sproles-Martin/674754042 Mary Sproles Martin

    ugh. and so it continues.

    • http://www.realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

      Pretty much. Sad.

  • Zorbteng

    What’s going to happen to Rick Moore? He’s one of my very most favorite folks in Charlottesville! He’s done a great job with the Forest Lakes Market and I sure enjoy his radio program (which features the Great Jim Duncan from time to time!) Also, that’s where I go to access the free wireless! Worry worry. Will 7-11 do away with Rick and the wireless? If Rick loses his job at the Market, will he still do his WNRN talk show I listen to (almost) every Sunday? Oh, what about the nice folks that do the good cooking there? Will they lose their jobs, too?????

  • lcs

    I afraid you folks don’t understand business. The whole purpose of setting up stores like The Market is to establish a strong customer base with good service and food, establish location,location,location and then sell out to the highest bidder. This is the American way. The owners certainly care nothing about their customers or employees, only their ultimate profit. Believe me, the other locations will be sold out within a year.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G4KN6H7I3YCIWMKYFB5JEEELKM Zana

    Hy. I am doing a little research about Hydraulic Conductivity and I found one great new Open Access ( free to download and share ) book. This book provides the state of the art of the investigation and the in-depth analysis of hydraulic conductivity from the theoretical to semi-empirical models perspective as well as policy development associated with management of land resources emanating from drainage-problem soils. You can find “Developments in Hydraulic Conductivity Research” here: http://www.intechopen.com/books/show/title/developments-in-hydraulic-conductivity-research Cheers! :)

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