By Jamie Woolley
Travelers on U.S. Highway 62 between Lubbock and Brownfield soon will find a pleasant surprise on the roadside in Ropesville, Texas. The surprise comes in the form of a CENEX/AMPRIDE convenience store, courtesy of Ropes Coop Gin, located on gin property.
Sammy Means, manager of Ropes Coop Gin, said the idea for the store was born out of necessity.
“We felt like there was a need in the area for this type of store,” Means said. “Over 750 vehicles come down this highway every hour, and there’s no place to stop.”
He also said the coop took its cue from Crosby County Fuel Association which opened CENEX/AMPRIDE stores in Crosbyton and Ralls in 2001. The managers for the Ropes store even trained at the Crosbyton and Ralls locations.
“One big reason for the store is to provide another source of revenue for the gin that’s not coming out of farming,” Means said. “This also allows us to distribute more dividends to our members.”
The store was built on land already owned by the gin, and the coop received 100 percent financing for the project which includes the cost of the building as well as inventory to stock the store. The financing package was compiled by American Bank of Commerce which utilized the USDA Rural and Cooperative Service’s Business and Industry (B&I) program, a USDA representative said.
The goal of the B&I program is to promote employment opportunities in rural areas by bolstering conventional credit sources through the USDA’s guaranty of quality loans.
In order to learn the “ins and outs” of running a convenience store, the gin enlisted the help of a CENEX/AMPRIDE consultant.
“We know how to run a gin, but a convenience store is new to us,” Means said. “Our consultant, Roy Ehrett, will be with us for one year to help us get into the flow of the business.” Means also said Ehrett was responsible for hiring a manager, assistant manager, and food court manager for the operation.
Not only will the new store provide a welcome rest stop and fuel station, it will offer many dining options and other convenience amenities as well. The new location will house a Noble Roman’s Pizza, Blimpie submarine sandwich shop, the Ropes Grill which will serve burgers and chicken, Boyds Coffee, and a soft-serve ice cream bar. Patrons also will have at their disposal an ATM, Western Union, money orders, and a phone center with phone cards and accessories.
“We’ve been talking about doing this for two years,” Means said. “Now it’s an exciting reality. The community is really eager, and we’ve even had passersby come in to tell us how excited they are to have a new stop on this highway.”
Means invites anyone traveling through Ropesville to stop and see all that Ropes Coop Gin’s CENEX/AMPRIDE convenience store has to offer.