By Tate Davis
Construction is underway at the Mountain City Food Mart located on the corner of West Main and US Highway 421 in downtown Mountain City as the company switches distributors and rebrands to offer Shell products.
Crews have been removing fuel pumps and five underground 10,000-gallon tanks.
Sunny Murtaza, owner of the Food Mart, said the change is, in part, a reaction to a recent Tomahawk article finding fuel prices were higher here than in neighboring communities of Boone, NC, and Abingdon, VA.
Murtaza says the ExxonMobil distributor was not helpful with finding a solution to benefit his customers.
“Prices were higher than in other towns,” Murtaza said. “We are trying to bring better prices and be more competitive.”
The conversion to Shell products will be a “complete remodel,” according to Murtaza.
The facility is “installing new tanks, new pumps, repairing asphalt, fixing concrete padding, you name it.”
Inside, he plans a “more modern appearance” for his store by upgrading the coffee counter and improving the checkout area. Altogether, renovations will cost about $400,000.
“It’s money,” Murtaza said. He is proud to be “investing in our community.” The underground tank replacements, in particular, are not a quick or easy process. One challenge is the “tight space,” but Murtaza said he is happy with the progress and has “found the Town of Mountain City to be good to work with.”
He hopes exterior work will wrap up by November 1. All of the upgrades are expected to be fully finished by the first or second week of November.
While parts of the parking lot are blocked for construction, Store Manager Tammy Blevins said the convenience store is open for business and its hours of operation are unchanged.
Blevins said she is excited about the conversion to Shell branding and all of the upgrades.