Playing the Shell game

Is South Kitsap big enough for yet another convenience store?

Chad Woehrle is going to find out.

Woehrle is the operations manager of the new Mile Hill Shell station, which opened Jan. 5 at 1600 Mile Hill Drive, taking over the building that sat vacant for four years at the intersection of Mile Hill and Woods Road.

Woehrle, who runs the store for owner Ron Brisendine, also oversees operations at two other of Brisendine’s stores in Puyallup and Orting.

“We’re a small family business,” Woehrle said. “Wherever we’ve gone, we’ve tried to be a part of the community. Right now, this is my main focus.”

Brisendine, who has been in the business for 30 years, started his very first store in Port Orchard when the Flying J opened for business in1971.

“It’s kind of neat that that was his first location many years ago,” Woehrle said. “And now we’re back and just down the street.”

Woehrle, who has run convenience stores for about 10 years, stumbled across the Mile Hill location by accident.

“I saw this station on an Internet site a year ago and I thought it looked like a good location,” Woehrle said. “We looked at it again about six months ago and then a month later we decided to go with it.”

The building actually went up in 2000 but remained vacant until Woehrle opened on Jan. 5. He said a grand opening is planned for the first couple of weeks in April.

“This was already set and ready to go and just waiting for someone,” Woehrle said. “And a lot of people have come in just expressing their gratitude that someone came in and opened it because they’d been watching it for so many years.”

But can the community support another store of this kind?

“Sometimes a new station makes sense,” Woehrle said. “I think we can serve Manchester really well.

“I drove down to Manchester and I was surprised to find that there weren’t any gas stations,” Woehrle said. “It seemed that there was a need down in this part of town for that. And because it was already 90 percent built, it made sense.”

The Shell station will bring competition to PJ’s Market, which sits right across Mile Hill. And it seems there has been some bad blood already.

Woehrle said he wanted to clear the air with PJ’s Market over things that may or may not had been said.

“I’ve heard rumors that people over there thought I said nasty things such as I’m going to put them out of business and all this stuff and that’s actually the opposite,” Woehrle said. “I want both of us to succeed. He can offer people things that I can’t. I know he’s very proud of his pricing and he does a good job with that and I don’t think I can compete on all levels with that all the time. But I can offer gas.”

Woehrle said he is looking forward to competing with PJ’s and hopes the two stores can find their niches.

“We’re going to try and operate a clean, friendly environment, which I’m sure he does, too,” Woehrle said. “I’m the type of operator, we’ve got gas stations across the street from our other locations and I’m friendly with most of them. There’s no reason for us to begrudge each other. This whole corner can become a nice little commercial area. I think we can both succeed.”

For now, Woehrle has six employees working the store and hopes to bring in a full-time manager soon.

The store will operate from 5 a.m. till 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 6 a.m. to midnight on Sundays.

Plans are in the works to also incorporate a Subway sandwich shop inside the store in the future, possibly by the summer.

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