Avoiding BP stations: Who really pays for a boycott? - KMOV.com

Avoiding BP stations: Who really pays for a boycott?

Perhaps you or someone you know go out of the way to avoid filling up at a BP gas station. 

Hundreds of thousands have joined a Facebook group calling for a boycott of BP stations and brands:  www.facebook.com/pages/Boycott-BP/119101198107726

But if thousands do, in fact, boycott BP stations - will BP feel the effects?

According to the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, there are no BP-owned gas stations in Missouri.  Most gas stations in the country are individually owned franchises.  The business owners often enter into long-term contracts to display the BP name and image.  Executive Director Ron Leone tells me that gas station owners in the St. Louis-area haven't taken as much heat as those along the Gulf, but owners are concerned about some backlash.  Leone says a boycott at the local level won't hurt BP, but rather the individual business owner.

Connections to BP aren't always apparent.  A sign on a gas station that says BP may not always sell fuel that comes from BP's wells. 

Haim Mano, an associate professor of marketing in the College of Business Administration at the University of Missouri - St. Louis says that BP is a major player in the wholesale market.  The company sells fuel to a variety of sources and gas you buy at another station may actually carry BP gas and vice-versa.

He says boycotting a local BP station is a mostly symbolic move.

It's one of the reasons a local activist is considering a trip to a BP corporate office to participate in a protest.  I met Mike Davis on March 12th when I interviewed him for a story about the local Coffee Party (which began as the alternative to the Tea Party movement).  Mike later emailed me about a June 8th vigil calling for more accountability for the BP oil spill.  He held the vigil at his church in Alton - not outside a local BP station.  He said that one of the reasons is that he believes the people who work at local BP stations won't have influence over the conditions in the Gulf. 

"Somebody that just rings up gas exchanges and really has no control, is just a working Joe who's making close to minimum wage and has no influence on what's going on down in the Gulf.  Instead, we'll address the CEOs and people like that and hopefully get their attention to just how concerned the public is about what's going on," said Davis.

Diana Zoga is a general assignment reporter at News4.  You can reach her at dzoga@kmov.com or follow Diana on Twitter:  www.twitter.com/DIANAZOGA



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