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Longboat Key Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2009 10 years ago

BP station gets stamp of approval

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

Customers who can’t make the 4:30 p.m. weekday closing time at the Longboat Key Post Office will soon have another option.

BP Longboat Key owners Nazeela Rahman-Shaw and Peter Shaw received word approximately two weeks ago that their gas station and convenience store, located at 400 Gulf of Mexico Drive, had been approved by the U.S. Postal Service to become a contract post office.

At some point after Oct. 1, customers will be able to weigh packages and pay for postage, in addition to filling up their tanks at the BP station, although they will have to take their packages to a mailbox for delivery. Stamps are currently available in the convenience store.

Rahman-Shaw applied for the contract nearly a year ago, shortly after she and her husband purchased the gas station in August 2008.

The BP station will be the only contracted post office on Longboat Key. Although they are still finalizing the hours during which postal services will be available, Rahman-Shaw said the hours could include evenings and weekends.

The Longboat Key Post Office will supervise the BP station’s postal services. As a contract post office, it will not be permitted to sell postal money orders or operate post-office boxes.

Rahman-Shaw said the contract will be another way for the BP station to attract customers. Already, the Shaws have made updates to the station, such as adding a car spa, where customers can have their vehicles washed and vacuumed. They also plan to add more groceries and an upgraded selection of wine to the convenience store.

The Shaws have lived on Longboat Key since 1989. They owned two gas stations in Orlando from 1992 to 2004. Those gas stations did not have contract post offices.

The challenges that BP Longboat Key faces are the same that gas stations everywhere face,
Rahman-Shaw said. Credit-card fees eat up 6.5 cents to 7.5 cents for every gallon of gas the station sells.

Yet selling gas on Longboat Key has its own set of challenges, such as a sharp decline in customers during the summer. The challenges are evident in the fact that the BP Longboat Key is the only gas station remaining on the island, Rahman-Shaw said. The north-Key Chevron station closed in 2007, and Bay Isles Shell shut down earlier this year.

“Being the only station left on Longboat Key, it’s not a given that we will be here five years from now,” Rahman-Shaw said. “It requires a lot of hard work.”

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