Monday, March 21, 2016

QuikTrip vs. U-Gas vs. Circle K

In the lively neighborhood discussions regarding the Circle K expansion and liquor license, I’ve seen a number of neighbors talk about how great the mega QuikTrip and U-Gas stations are. They often conclude that by allowing Circle K to proceed with their plans the store at Jamieson and Fyler will bring similar results. I decided to delve into these three companies to get an idea of their mission, origin, size, and how they support their St. Louis communities. Here are some bullet points of what I discovered. 


  • Mission statement: “To provide opportunity for employees to grow and succeed.” [1]
  • QT was started in Tulsa, OK in 1958. Their headquarters are still there. [2]
  • It currently has 760 locations throughout the US and has been on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For for 14 years. [2] 
  • It donates 5% of annual net profits to 501c3 companies. They encourage applications from the St. Louis area for grants of up to $1000 each. [3] 


  • Mission statement: “Providing Fast & Friendly service in a Fresh & Fun environment.” [4]
  • U-Gas started in Fenton, MO in 1977. [4] Their headquarters are still there. [5]
  • It currently has 19 locations throughout the Saint Louis region. [5] 
  • Through March 27, is donating $.27 for each purchased 20oz Pepsi to the Blues for Kids Foundation. [6] 

Circle K (Midwest)

  • Mission statement: “Our mission is to be the best and most convenient place to shop, and work.” [7] 
  • Circle K started in El Paso, TX in 1951. It was acquired by Tosco in 1996, then Phillips Petroleum (now ConocoPhillips) in 2002 before being sold off to Alimentation Couche-Tard in 2003. Couche-Tard’s headquarters are in Laval, QC, Canada with the Circle K Midwest Division’s office in Columbus, IN. [8] 
  • Alimentation Couche-Tard is a Global Fortune 500 company [9] and currently has more than 16,000 stores across Canada, US, Europe, Mexico, Japan, China, and Indonesia. [10] 
  • Couche-Tard donates about 2.5%* of annual net profits to non-government organizations. [11] I was not able to find outreach specific to Metro St. Louis. 


It is unrealistic to claim that Circle K's business model and community outreach are on par with either QuikTrip or U-Gas. I love that U-Gas is a local company doing right by the people it employs and the community it serves. I have a huge amount of respect for QuikTrip (especially after reading this article). Although QuikTrip is based in Oklahoma, they are a paragon of a successful business with a thriving community-focused mindset. I see Couche-Tard as a global hydra too fascinated on acquiring assets and too focused on the bottom line to pay attention to the thousands of communities it inhabits. They've owned the station at the corner of Jamieson and Fyler for three years. Based upon their business model and personal observation, I have seen little -- with regard to how they treat employees, maintain their operations, or communicate with the community -- to make me think allowing them to expand and sell liquor will do anything but harm our community and pump money out of the St. Louis economy, out of the US economy, and into the pockets of a Canadian company's share holders.


* 2.5% is a calculation of $20 million in donations [11] of $811 million in profits. [9]


  1. Thank you for excellent and well-documented research, Seth. This makes it ever more clear why we should oppose Circle K's expansion. Bigger will not mean better, that is clear very clear.

  2. I understand from many neighbors that they want Circle K to be better yet seem to overlook the fact that it will not be run with new owners or managers (according to Alderman Vaccaro) and yet will be twice as big and selling alcohol.