PARKERSBURG - A Parkersburg-based chain of convenience stores is being sold to Go Mart, the owner said.
The deal will be finalized Dec. 18 with the Kompak location on Staunton Avenue becoming a Go Mart location while the other two locations at St. Marys Avenue and Camden Avenue will close on that date, said owner Gary Traugh, who purchased Kompak in 1985.
Terms were not disclosed.
Photo by Brett Dunlap
Gary Traugh, owner of the local Kompak stores, stands outside his Staunton Avenue location. Go Mart is purchasing three of the local Kompak locations.
"It's going to be kind of hard," Traugh said. "I've done this for more than 35 years."
Traugh still remembers his first day's sales were $270.
''I remember the days I was working to build this business up,'' he said. ''We went through so many things over the years.''
In its prime during the 1990s with four locations, Kompak had done a $25,000-a-day deposit.
"It was incredible to grow that much in just 10 years," Traugh said.
The thing that established Kompak locally was when it became the first to bring in Amish cheeses and deli meats to the area around the mid-1980s. The business regularly advertised those items and saw considerable business at the time.
By the late 1980s, the stores found a niche with tobacco sales which they advertised a lot in the local newspaper.
"We were told at the trade shows that we were one of the biggest independent tobacco retailers," Traugh said.
Kompak was one of the first to bring Rave cigarettes to the East Coast and was a big seller for Montclair Cigarettes and Mail Pouch Tobacco. Through the years, government regulations curtailed what the business could do with tobacco sales.
Traugh credits many of his employees through the years as being an important part of his success. In addition, the Parkersburg area is good to independent business owners.
"I think Parkersburg is the best town in the country and this is the best area in the country," he said. "Knowing the business I have done here through the years, there is no other area where a small independent guy could have built such a business."
Parkersburg is one of the few areas where small businesses can still thrive, Traugh said.
"Parkersburg just has a good culture," he said. "Everyone here sticks together and tries to help each other out."
Go Mart is one of the largest independent chains, still owned by a West Virginia family, and Traugh said it was an honor for him that they wanted to purchase his business, despite the fact he has never sold gasoline at any of his locations.
"I have beat the odds," Traugh said of conventional wisdom that said he would need gasoline sales in order to make it.
Talks began around two years ago to purchase the businesses.
"It is bittersweet," he said.
"I have probably cried 10 times," Traugh said with a laugh. "I have been thinking about all of these people in the past who have helped me and all of my super employees."
Some employees have been with him a number of years and have a very close relationship with him, Traugh said. Kompak has 24 employees at its three locations.
Traugh said the purchase deal involves Go Mart offering positions to all of his current employees.
The store locations are at Staunton Avenue, St. Marys Avenue adjacent to a Go Mart station and convenience store and on Camden Avenue near the former Roosevelt School. A fourth store on 23rd Street was sold earlier this year to an employee, Traugh said.
Kompak was established in the 1960s by Harry Thorn, Traugh said. It was among the oldest community-based chains in the nation, he said. The first store was the Staunton Avenue location, Traugh said. On Dec. 18, a Go Mart sign will go over top the Kompak's, he said.
Traugh will retain ownership of the real estate and the buildings. Go Mart is buying the name and the business, he said.
Plans for the St. Marys Avenue site call for a new and larger laundromat, Traugh said. Gary's Always Hot is leased to another party and is not involved, he said.
Officials with Go Mart did not return messages Monday and Tuesday left at their corporate offices in Gassaway, W.Va., seeking comment on the sale and what their plans are for the Kompak business.