Exit 75 I-95n in NC To: Jonesboro Rd, near @Dunn,North Carolina
Ok Road Trippers take a gander onto the shoulder on the right. See the hole in the ground and the sign about another Love’s Travel Store coming soon? Seeing that love is coming soon gets me all wistful and teary eyed. Why, you may ask?
Well, seeing another convenience store rising from the red American dirt gets me very patriotic.
America is still the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is also a place where with grit, luck, and smarts, anyone’s dreams can still come true. The convenience store chain, Love’s is still a family business. The c-store chain is owned by Tom and Judy Love.
Likely you have passed thousands of such fuel and food convenience stores in your life. Convenience store sales in general are huge. According to GasBuddy, as recently as 2017, Convenience Store sales were 60% bigger than all online sales. And that includes sales by Amazon! Wow, right? Well you could call Love’s the grand-daddy of the c-store industry.
In 1964, Tom and Judy Love spent $5,000 to lease an abandoned gas station in booming Watonga, Oklahoma. Watonga is an hour northwest of Oklahoma City. They named their company Musket Corporation. Over the next 8 years, Musket opened 40 additional gas stations. But then came the Arab Oil Embargo…
When the fuel crunch of the early 1970s began, gasoline was in short supply.
Tom and Judy Love diversified for the sake of survival. They launched a new concept: the "Mini Stop Country Store." By adding groceries to their self-service fuel sales, Musket became one of the nation's first to offer one-stop shopping for road trippers. The so-called convenience store was successful and the company quickly opened more stores in western Oklahoma.
In 1972, Musket set out to convert all of its locations from gas stations to convenience stores. By 1973, the company began using the family name instead of Musket. Love's Country Stores was the new name.
By 1981, Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores celebrated its 100th store in small communities throughout Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. That same year, the company began offering the Fresh Daily Deli, sandwiches made fresh daily on-location. Food service became the company's third profit center along with self-serve gasoline and convenience store items.
Despite the founders becoming some of the wealthiest people in America, with a net worth of around 7 Billion Dollars, Loves transformed its country theme but not its folksy service. Despite the mansions and flying around in private jets and yachting about in a 7 million dollar mega yacht, the Loves joint ventured with such regular folk eateries like Wendy’s, Dunkin’ and Taco Bell.
The founders are still homey folk: the Loves expanded service to professional truckers with showers, overnight parking for big-rigs, and even barber shops.
By 2014 the juggernaut had 300 locations; by 2016 it boasted 400 locations. It is still family owned. It is ranked number 18 on the list of privately owned companies.
In only 20 more miles is another exit and guess what? It also leads to a nearby Love’s Travel Store! Why not pull over and see what an American Success story looks like?
Finally, consider this: the founders Tom and Judy may be looking down on you from their Gulfstream jet — not just with fondness, but with love. Billions and billions in love!
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