Untitled: A Gas Station Review

Champaign-Urbana, from what I’ve gathered, is a very crowded market for gas stations. Circle K has a firm grip at the top, with several locations throughout the community and the Polar Pop being one of the best deals in the beverage industry. Several other well-known chains have locations peppered around the area, and then at the bottom of the food chain (with rare exceptions) are the independently-run stations that exist due to the hard work of those who choose to run them.

Our gas station in question happens to be of this third variety.

A Google Earth view of our gas station.

Disclaimer: I’m not sure if the gas station I’ll be discussing actually has a name. The outside of the gas station says “Food Center,” but Google Maps refers to it as the “Vine Street Food Mart.” Henceforth I’ll refer to it as “Food Center,” though either title is baffling considering almost any other store in Urbana has as big or a bigger selection of food.

At a glance, Food Center certainly appears to be sort of shady. Though the gas pumps themselves look fairly modern and are housed under a Marathon carport, the building itself gives off a sketchy vibe. I’ve never fueled my car here, so I can’t attest to the quality of the gas, but I assume it’s standard for any other gas station. The store’s blue paint has clearly been bleached by the sun over time and is probably a far lighter tone than what it once was. A marquee on the right side of the front wall seems dated and evokes thoughts of the stereotypical run-down gas station.

When it comes to actually making a purchase, I’d say that Food Center fares pretty well. If I was going to buy food or soda at a convenience store, I would almost certainly favor Circle K, but who wouldn’t? This location is a nice alternative though, with a location close enough to the school to make it a good option for off-campus lunch on nice days. Pros of shopping here include excellent customer service from the cashiers, organization (the shelves are usually pretty neat and the store in general relatively clean), and the aforementioned location. Being only a few blocks away from Urbana High School, the station is perfect to walk to, which enables me to burn off whatever calories I take in from what I buy there (or so I tell myself). There are, however, a few unsettling cons that preclude me from fully enjoying my experience.

A stock photo of a bottle of Mountain Dew Throwback.


For starters, more often than not at least one variety of Mountain Dew is entirely expired. They’ll have four or five bottles, but they will all have expired months ago. Last Thursday I noticed that the Mountain Dew Throwback stock expired last November.

Talk about a throwback!

Another detraction is that the prices of most food items aren’t actually listed on the shelves. You have to assume what things cost based on what you know from shopping elsewhere, which is a hassle to say the very least. It also doesn’t help shake the shady gas station vibe that people associate with this location because it makes me feel like they’re trying to hide something. Why can’t they just tell me what a Jack Link’s stick costs? Why do I have to play a guessing game if I want to buy some Cheez-Its? Why be so secretive over the price of some candy blue sharks? But I digress. The bottom line is that this a problem that should be fixed urgently.

Food Center (?) is a solid option for those looking to take a little walk to get a name brand beverage at lunch. In spite of it’s shortcomings, I’ll give Food Center seven Mountain Dews out of a possible ten. In my rough draft I had given it eight Dews, but when I went to make my revisions, the eighth one expired.

Joey Wright

One Comment

  1. Good Job Joey, I really enjoyed this

    -Darian Younggren-Halliday
    Club Spotlighter for The Echo

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