The marketing genius who invented the Blue Apple concept for the Mobil station and convenience store at Packard and Platt was the owner’s eighth-grade niece, Kavya. Owner Dave Davuluri says he wanted a name that would honor the U-M’s colors and Go Blue slogan: “We wanted the community to understand that we were part of it. We thought of Blue Mart and some other things like that, and she said, ‘What about Blue Apple?’ I said it to myself several times and I liked it.”

The bright new sign on the newly cleaned-up store is crisp, inviting, and eye-catching with its yellow letters and a picture of a blue apple replacing the letter a. Davuluri also shows off other Blue Apple features that he hopes will draw people inside once they’ve pulled up to the gas pump. Getting people off the pavement and in the door is critical, because convenience stores make their profit not so much on gas but on the snacks and sundries inside.

This is Davuluri’s first gas station, but he’s worked in convenience stores before and is putting into practice his ideas of what will make or break them. First, he wanted a safe, clean environment, so he added banks of windows to the old Buddy’s Mini Mart building and amped up the lighting. “The idea is that a ten-year-old girl could come in here alone, and her mother waiting in the car wouldn’t worry about her.”

To cultivate returning customers, he has invested in an expensive reverse-osmosis system to filter the water used in fountain and coffee drinks. Really picky coffee drinkers might care to inquire about the digital timers on the urns that show exactly how old the coffee is; if you can’t figure out the iconography, just remember the coffee is thrown out after four hours anyway. “We throw out a lot of coffee,” Davuluri admits. The fountain has Coke and Pepsi–“Sometimes the husband likes Pepsi, the wife likes Coke”–as well as basic groceries, all manner of snacks and prepared foods, and something you don’t find in your average city gas station: a small refrigerator of fishing worms and night crawlers.

Blue Apple, 3005 Packard, 973-8020. Daily 24 hours (no website).