Obama gas station in Columbia raising eyebrows - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Obama gas station in Columbia raising eyebrows

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By Brandi Cummings - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A gas station on Columbia's North Main Street has been renamed and redecorated after President Obama.

Two gas stations sit at the corner of Columbia's North Main Street and Prescott Road, the El Cheapo and another station with a new name -- Obama.
     
"I see more people come in excited with the name," said owner Sam Alhanik, who got the idea from a friend who created an Obama Gas Station in Michigan.

Alhanik has only owned this station for two months. Although born in Yemen, he says he supports America's president. "It's the first president of black people," he said. "It's our president. We like him."

He says he's seen a boom in business since changing the name, one that has sparked quite the competition with the station across the street. Before our interview, the price at the Obama station was $3.59 for a gallon of regular. The price at El Cheapo $3.54.
    
When we mentioned the difference during our interview, Alhanik's cousin lowered the price to $3.53. Just seconds later, the price at the El Cheapo fell too.

"That's the business," said Alhanik. "I don't want to lose everything. It's a competition."

One that's great for frequent customers like Larry Nelson, who says his stops here more often because of the president's picture. "I feel like it does support him by coming here," said Nelson.

Alhanik spent $4,000 to change the name and the look. "I think it's a good marketing tool," said Chiquita Burton, who owns Salon 5710 on North Main.

Burton says the gas station name change has prompted discussions in her hair salon, but she does not like the idea. "A lot of people think that it's morally and ethically wrong to have the president beside beer, wine and cigarettes," she said. "That's portraying an image to society and also to the children here."

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved.

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