Howdy folks, and welcome back to HHR. Today we’re taking a break from the norm, and talking about Star Stop. Now that’s a name that doesn’t come up well… anywhere really, and if you don’t recognize it I don’t blame you. The company operates ~115 gas stations and C-Stores, mostly in and around Houston, with a small presence in San Antonio and Austin as well. The stores are mostly former chains that have been snapped up in bulk, and many still retain whatever decor their former owners left behind. Also, from what I can tell, they’re the largest Houston-owned C-Store chain, since Timewise’s sale to Shell last year. Star Stop, as a brand is a relatively recent development. The oldest store I can find dates from around 2001 located at the corner of OST and 610. This is to say, the first location of Star Stop in its current format. Based on scrapings of information, it seems that another person may have built a small chain ~5 or so stores using the Star Stop name, before cratering out around the 90s. The new owner Feroz Panjwani would find himself with Star Stop #2, and was not his first gas station either, as he had seen some success with stores around the 290 and Pinemont area, which have since been converted to Star Stop locations. The next batch of acquisitions would be from chains that were needing to sell their stores quickly, like On the Run, Tetco, and a few smaller outfits. Often the case would be that Timewise or another chain would land as many outlets as they wanted with Star Stop picking up the “rejects”. While Mr. Panjwani has been able to grow himself a reputable chain relatively quickly, the stores are distinctly lacking a unifying look. However, today’s location seems to be an attempt to fix that, at least on the inside. With this Star Stop located at 13233 Dairy Ashford Rd, Sugar Land, TX 77478 we likely won’t ever see much exterior change due to the fact the station is inside of First Colony, and subject to their design regulations.
When Star Stops first started to pop up around Houston, I honestly figured that they were a subbrand of Timewise. The bland décor, lack of cohesive branding beyond the fuel supplier, and sticking mainly with Shell and Exxon led me to believe that in fact, this was may have been an attempt to create a lower-tier C-Store for Landmark Industries, former owner of Timewise. I would only later learn that these similarities were simply coincidental and Star Stop was separate. It seems that Panjwani has taken this to heart, and within the past 2 years or so began to debut updated decor. This Star Stop makes a good effort at creating a unified brand. While obviously working with what was left in place by Exxon, it puts its own unique spin on the place, which feels decidedly Houstonian in my opinion. I’m not sure if it’s the vague space references, the mimic of downtown on the accent, or what, but something about it rings a bell for me. Newer Star Stop locations, actually feature this decor implemented, along with some exterior updates making for a good-looking store, and objectively one of the best in the area. This isn’t really a C-Store worth checking out, but if you’re in the vicinity of a Star Stop, give them a try and see what you think, with the new ownership of Timewise, who knows how long that’ll be around.