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Hoff’s Mobil vs. O’Brien’s Market

News Item: The Lenox Zoning Board of Appeals has been dealing with a non-win issue to allow for a change in use at Hoff’s Mobil from a gasoline station to a gas/convenience store.

Glenn A. Hoff has made a couple of presentations, including a crudely drawn picture of what the convenience store may look like.

Daniel W. O’Brien, owner of O’Brien’s Market, is opposed to the change because it would affect his business, and the dynamics of a gas/convenience store would impale deliveries, traffic and parking. Plus, it would impede his profit margin.

Meanwhile, the ZBA has requested a traffic study from Mr. Hoff. This has caused delays in the hearing.

The bet in town hall is that Mr. Hoff may be willing to buy Mr. O’Brien out. Inside sources say there have been conversations.

Last week, Price Chopper announced it was willing to pay Mr. O’Brien $100,000 for his liquor license, which the Lenox licensing board approved. Subject to Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) approval, the check will be issued.

This leads one to speculate that with the monies from the liquor license sale, the sale price of O’Brien’s may be reduced, or it may re-open negotiations.

The ZBA is caught in a crossfire: if they approve Mr. Hoff’s change, legal action will be taken by Mr. O’Brien. If it is denied, Mr. Hoff will have to re-evaluate his proposed change. It is clear that Mr. Hoff cannot do it by right.

Lipton Oil Co. has expressed interest, but wants Mr. Hoff to get the necessary permits.

Meanwhile, The Berkshire Beacon sees the two competing businesses “locking horns” and perhaps ending a longtime friendship. Lipton Oil has not been a friend of historic preservation, but is clearly a player in the gas/convenience store business in Berkshire County.

Enter Cumberland Farms which has the money, the promotion and, with some nudge from locals, could buy out both operators and put a stand alone, state of the art store with fuel/food services that would be a hallmark to the industry and to the Town of Lenox.

Some of the Cumberland Farms stores (Cumbies) are outdated, but seem to be profitable, i.e. Dalton and Pittsfield.

The company’s pitch: “Check out the future of Cumberland Farms, coming real soon to a neighborhood near you. Some of these incredible new locations are already up and running, but many more are on the way.

“Our new store designs are like no convenience store you’ve ever experienced, filled with delicious, freshly prepared foods, a frosty shake machine and, of course, our incredible Chill Zone. You’re not going to believe your eyes.”

Maybe this is what Main Street Lenox needs looking for its future in the tourist business.

It will not be a slam-dunk. It will take the motivation of Mr. Hoff and Mr. O’Brien and the dedication of the Lenox Historic District Commission to meet the object of a goal to clean up the corner with reasonable signage and preservation of a grander look of Hoff’s and O’Brien’s.

While others have come to view, it may take the commitment of Joe Petrowski, chief executive officer of  The Cumberland Gulf Group to visit and appraise the situation all the way from Framingham.

How do we accomplish this?

Cumberland Farms management says: “It’s simple really…

-By getting you in and out quicker.

-By providing on a daily basis the cleanest stores, the smartest selection of basic necessities, the tastiest foods and beverages, and the friendliest service you’ll find ANYWHERE.

-By treating both our customers and each other with the utmost respect and kindness.

-By offering all of this at a terrific everyday value that will keep you coming back every day.

Our vision: to become the first choice destination for every on-the-go consumer within reasonable driving distance to our front doors are already up and running, but many more are on the way.”

Maybe what Lenox needs is a new face, marquee for Main Street?

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Posted by on July 5, 2013. Filed under Opinion,View from the Tower. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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