When the Washtenaw Mini Mart at Arborland closed last year, Jeff Lenard of the National Association of Convenience Stores explained why more gasoline stations are closing than opening (Marketplace Changes, March 2010). In short, there’s just not much profit in gas itself: the trend these days is toward supermarkets and increasingly well-provisioned convenience stores that sell gas as a loss leader.
That evolution is evident at Washtenaw Oil, the new Marathon station that Mark Yaldo and his nephew Frederick Yaldo built to replace the Mini Mart. Fashioned from brick and stone, with a stylish ceramic tile floor and two-story windows, it’s pretty enough to be a yoga studio. The Yaldos sell all the usual snacks and sandwiches, as well as Krispy Kreme donuts, and, upping the ante for the well-outfitted gas station, they also sell beer and wine. “We’re the only gas station in Ann Arbor that sells beer and wine,” says Frederick, and that appears to be true. Michigan law requires gas stations to fulfill several criteria in order to sell alcohol (and many gas stations that are technically eligible to sell it choose not to). Though most of the Yaldos’ beer and wine is pretty basic, they do carry some premium beers, like Bell’s.
The Yaldos own a couple of gas stations in the Detroit area, but this isn’t their first Ann Arbor venture: in the early 90s they owned Falsetta’s Market, just across Washtenaw from their new place.
Washtenaw Oil, Inc. (Marathon), 3555 Washtenaw, 677-6840. Daily, 24 hours.