Bowling Green businessman Fred Higgins will sell the Minit Mart stores he co-founded. Higgins has signed a letter of intent to sell the 31 stores to Travel Centers of America for $67 million. In 2001, he sold 84 stores. But the purchaser in that earlier deal, Clark Retail Enterprises, went into bankruptcy. Higgins ended up with 31 of the stores.
The bankruptcy court distributed the other stores. “They were dropped back into my lap because they weren’t paying on the sale,” he said. That was 11 years ago. Higgins said the idea of selling the stores came up again because one of the minor owners wanted to get out because of medical issues.
It all started in 1967, when Fred Higgins and his father Ralph founded a little place called Minit Mart.
Fred was in law school at the University of Kentucky, but by the time he graduated in 1969, he had expanded the operation to six stores in the Lexington area.
After Fred’s return from the Army in 1972, Minit Mart Foods was incorporated with 16 stores — a pretty notable achievement, but one that was only beginning. He started to acquire single convenience stores and select sites on which to build new Minit Marts, and by 1988 Minit Mart had expanded its business to Tennessee when it acquired 19 Bread Box convenience stores there.
Minit Mart was among the first convenience stores to add gas pumps, an innovation that has changed the way Americans buy gasoline. That pioneering spirit lives on, as Minit Mart has been at the forefront of adding delis, game machines and videotape rentals.
Co-founder Ralph Higgins played an active role in the management of Minit Mart Foods Inc. until his death in 1987. A year later, Minit Mart was operating 87 stores in Kentucky and Tennessee. O’Deli’s sub shops, Godfather’s Pizza, Taco Bell Express and Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream were part of many locations — grossing $250 million dollars annually and employing approximately 1,200 people.