By JOHN T. WARD
After 20 years, Rich Bercaw has pulled down the bay doors for the last time at his Sunoco gasoline and service station on River Road in Fair Haven.
Unable to keep up with steep rent and what he described as steadily dropping demand for both fuel and repairs, Bercaw pink-slipped five employees and shut off the lights last Thursday, he tells redbankgreen.
“Sunoco will come in and board it up until they find someone to rent it,” he said, as he loaded equipment into a pickup truck Tuesday. And with a deeply discounted first-year’s rent, “eventually, they’ll get someone,” he said.
Bercaw, though, was finding it increasingly difficult to meet the monthly nut, even after Sunoco reduced his rent two years ago, to $10,000 a month, from $13,000.
“There’s no negotiating with them on rent,” he said.
Sunoco’s media relations office in Philadelphia did not respond to to request for comment Tuesday.
Bercaw, who traveled to the station daily from North Plainfield, in Somerset County, said the volume of gas sales slipped steadily after September 11, 2001, and the decline accelerated after the financial crisis hit in 2008.
And because of the state of the economy, “people only get their cars fixed if it’s absolutely necessary,” he said.
Bercaw also ran the Sunoco station on Broad Street in Shrewsbury for two years, closing it in 2002. “That business never took off,” he said.