MINNEAPOLIS—At 36 Lynn Refuel Station, Lonnie McQuirter, director of operations, encapsulates trends that are at the forefront of the convenience and fuel retailing industry—a focus on customer service, community, locally sourced products, clean energy, EV charging and civic engagement.
The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder recently featured McQuirter in its “Black Business Spotlight,” where McQuirter shared the philosophy behind 36 Lynn, which launched in June 2005 as a Black-owned business in South Minneapolis.
“Entrepreneurship has always been in the family,” McQuirter said, speaking of his father who helped him start the business. “When you’re not working, you’re not eating, and my Dad instilled that.”
McQuirter said 36 Lynn always keeps in mind customer satisfaction. “It’s really about paying attention to what the customer wants and identifying with them.”
36 Lynn carries a variety of locally made products via partnerships with Minnesota businesses and tries to keep prices competitive.
“You’re going to keep more money in your pocket by coming here,” McQuirter told the newspaper. “From an economic standpoint—you’re going to be saving at least $350 a year.”
On the forecourt, there are BP-branded fuel pumps and a DC fast-charger. The canopy has energy-efficient LED lighting, and for at least the past six years, the store has sourced 100% of its electricity from wind energy.
From a small operator’s perspective, McQuirter said he tries to minimize costs. “I’ve seen some people squeezed out of business because they went and spent too much money,” he said. Using wind energy provides 36 Lynn with a rebate on the store’s electric bill.
McQuirter emphasizes Black buying power. “In terms of our community—we can build wealth a lot faster if we support people that support us,” he told the newspaper.
Community ties have been especially important as the c-store navigates the COVID-19 pandemic and last year’s turmoil around the slaying of George Floyd in the city. McQuirter shared with NACS Magazine and Ideas 2 Go how he responded to the unrest in his downtown Minneapolis community, and how his neighbors rallied to support his business last year. NACS Magazine also profiled 36 Lynn in an April 2018 store tour.