Blueox Corp. announced the sale of its Blueox Neighborhood Market convenience store chain to Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based Stewart’s Shops.
Renamed in 1986, Blueox Corp. grew to 11 stores made up of both Nice N Easy franchise sites and Big Blue Convenience Stores, serving rural markets in the heart of upstate New York. Their residential and commercial delivery and service operations will continue to grow and operate in Oxford, NY under the name Blueox Energy Products & Services.
Julia Miller, senior vice president of Blueox Corp., told CStore Decisions that it’s become increasingly difficult for a mid-sized c-store chain to compete in the market and invest in locations at the same time.
“We are too big to have minimal overhead, yet we aren’t big enough to have the economies of scale that larger organizations do,” she said. “We wanted to give our stores and our employees a home before we were forced to. We are so proud of the chain we built and maintained over the years, but to ensure their viability in the communities we service, it was time to find a partner who could make the investments they need and set them up for a sustainable future.”
Miller said Blueox chose Stewart’s for its shared values.
“Stewarts is known for taking care of their employees with their ESOP program and their career opportunities. We have employees that have been with us over 25 years – which is almost unheard of in convenience retail. We wanted them to land someplace that cared for them as much as we have over the years.” Miller said. “They also invest in their communities. A lot of companies say that but fail to prove it with action. Not only do they donate to a variety of local organizations but they have nice looking stores that staff and community members feel good shopping at and supporting. We know our local communities will get behind the Stewart’s brand and support these stores. Plus, now we all have better access to their ice cream!”
The sale is expected to close in September 2021. Blueox will continue to operate its growing energy business, delivering fuel oil, kerosene and propane, and it will continue to service and replace energy equipment including furnaces, boilers and hot water heaters.
Blueox Corp. President Jared Bartle added that the decision to sell did not come easily.
“Our stores, and especially the people in our stores, are deeply embedded into our corporate culture, and it’s for that reason we sought a buyer whose priorities most closely aligned with ours,” he said. “We believe most of our employees will not only continue employment with Stewart’s Shops but they will also be provided additional growth opportunities and ownership. This was very important to Blueox. As we realign our long-term goals and continue to reinvest in the delivery and service divisions of our company, I’m excited at the opportunities to come.”
The acquisition will increase Stewart’s Shops’ footprint further into the Central New York market.
Stewart’s employs over 4,500 people and currently operates over 337 shops across New York and southern Vermont. The company attributes its nearly-75-year history and success to its vertical integration, employee ownership and strong company values.
“We look forward to this opportunity to further serve the Blueox market that they have served so well for the past three-plus decades,” said Stewart’s Shops president Gary Dake, “and we look forward to welcoming Blueox employees to the Stewart’s family.”