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Bp Spill Causes Retail Angst

As U.S. consumers vent over the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by launching demonstrations and speaking out online, some retailers are evaluating their gas brand choice.

"People are posting their anger and frustration on their own personal newsfeeds," Karen North, director of the Annenberg Online Communities program at the University of Southern California, said in a Reuters report.

As a result of the negative press and consumer unrest over the failed cleanup efforts, Philipsburg, Pa.-based Snappy's Convenience Stores decided to convert three BP-branded stations to an unbranded banner.

"We are doing this because of the backlash and bad publicity from the handling of BP's catastrophe," Sean Lay, vice president of operations, said in published reports. "We don't want to be associated with them any more. We've had enough."

The chain has noticed a slight drop in business at the locations that sell BP products, he said.

"We want people to know we don't own BP. We want to make sure we are politically correct, and that is why we are separating ourselves from BP," Lay added. "We want to focus on the positive things we have done over the past 15 years."

Snappy's is not the only fuel retailer to feel the heat. Heath, Ohio-based Englefield Oil Co.'s co-owner and co-president, Ben Englefield, said his stations are feeling some effects.

"Overall, our volume has been hurt some," he said in published reports. "It's not a lot, but something we're going to go back to BP and ask for reimbursement, because it's not our doing."

Englefield is the second generation to lead the company, which purchased 43 BP stations in central Ohio last year. In total, the company operates 127 stations and sells BP gas at most of its more than 100 Duke and Duchess locations.

"I'm as sick as anybody about what's going on in the Gulf," Englefield told the paper. "We're under contract with BP and BP has been a very reliable supplier. Now, all of a sudden, the BP sign is like a skull and crossbones."

He added: "They aren't hurting BP at all. Most are owned by independent businessmen like myself."

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