Coulson Oil Buys 2 Convenience Stores, Plans to Own More

After years of supplying gasoline, a North Little Rock company is moving back into convenience stores.

On Feb. 1, Coulson Oil Co. purchased two convenience stores in the Texarkana area. Coulson President and CEO David Zakrzewski said the acquisitions represented a new direction for the company. In recent history, the company chiefly sold fuel to around 230 outlets around the state, mostly Shell stations.

"We own several hundred pieces of real estate," said Coulson CFO Lance West. "We usually lease those properties to independent operators and have a partnership. We're going to get back into the realm of operating whole locations for ourselves."

In the past, Coulson was on the forefront of Arkansas convenience store design, pioneering elements like self-service gas, truck stops and shops combined with fast food restaurants.

More is planned in the near future, Zakrzewski said, but it hasn't yet been set in stone.

In August, Coulson Oil formed Coulson Real Estate Group LLC to acquire and develop real estate holdings. At the time, it said opening new stores was a possibility the group might explore. It named Eddie Martin, senior vice president and general counsel at Coulson Oil, as president of the new real estate group.

At the time, the company said that about 100 of its property holdings were used for convenience store operations. But the company said that with changes seen in the fueling and convenience stores industries over the past few decades, "it has become more important than ever to ensure that these properties are being used to their best advantage."

"What we are seeing now is that some of our holdings may have a better use than serving as a [convenience store] location," Martin said. "We will be looking at the possibility of selling some properties to Coulson Oil dealers, while facilities at other locations we hold may be rebuilt to meet state-of-the-art convenience store standards.

Coulson Oil Co. is the 20th largest private company in Arkansas, according to Arkansas Business' latest list of the state's largest private firms, with $525 million in 2010 revenue.

Founded in 1969, it has about 80 employees. Subsidiaries include Port Cities Oil LLC, Diamond State Oil LLC, SuperStop Stores LLC, Planets Oil Co. LLC and Chief SeaHawk Transport LLC.