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Jumpin Jimmy's Leap

EFFINGHAM, Ill. — For much of the summer, shelves at the eight Jumpin Jimmy’s convenience stores in the Effingham, Ill., area were nearly empty because of financial issues with its parent company, Gas-Mart USA, according to a report by The Effingham Daily News.

The Overland Park, Kansas-based gas-station chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on July 2. But the $1.5 million debtor-in-possession (DIP) loanthat the company secured as a part of the bankruptcy enabled Gas-Mart USA to replenish shelves at the five Jumpin Jimmy’s in Effingham, as well as stores in Montrose, Edgewood and St. Elmo, said the report.

New company CEO John Tittle Jr. said that’s only the beginning for stores founded by the late Jim Niebrugge. “We have a lot of initiatives that we plan to implement in the stores,” Tittle told the newspaper.

That includes enhanced food selections, sales of hunting and fishing licenses and video gaming in some stores, he said.

Tittle said he and company president David George plan to be visible in the Effingham community as part of a “new attitude.” That increased visibility, he said, could include membership in the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce, as well as individual Facebook pages for each area store.

The stores are part of the 37-store Gas-Mart USA chain that includes stores in northern Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Legal disputes going back five years between the two 50-50 shareholders in the company didn’t help, George told CSP Daily News in July. “George explained on his side, the shareholders of Gas-Mart (David George, Michael George and the George Family Trust) have had an ongoing dispute with the Abraham J. Gustin Revocable Trust and Gregory J. Gustin (Abe Gustin died in 2010). George describes the core dispute being the valuation of a buy-sell agreement between the entities.

“We followed the letter of the agreement and Abe’s estate rejected it,” George said. “It was part of the reason for [the bankruptcy filing], but we had cash flow problems.”

Gas-Mart USA had not been paying attention to the 18 Jumpin Jimmy’s stores in central and southern Illinois, the report said..

“The Jumpin Jimmy’s stores had been treated like a stepchild,” Tittle said. “There had been a lot of bad Jumpin Jimmy’s stories in the last three years.”

But Tittle said Gas-Mart leadership is trying to create some good Jumpin Jimmy’s stores with what he calls “a cognitive change of culture and direction.”

He added, “We want the community to understand this is a complete change in direction.  We want to improve the customer experience in all of our stores.”

Click here to view the full Effingham Daily News report.


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