The last calendar year has been a wild one in the seedy world of gas stations.

In a world that continues to get more expensive on the justification of convenience, Oklahoma's biggest gas station chains made even bigger moves in 2023.

Texas giant Allsup's moved into the Sooner State. Love's acquired EZGO and the assumption was to keep the Oklahoma brand in the OK family. Love's then sold most EZGO stores to the Midwestern chain Casey's. Now it appears QuikTrip is making a play into the OKC Metro--something everyone thought was impossible.

For the last decade and a half, before hybrid/trendy convenience store/faster food brands like Hutch's and Casey's made their plays for Oklahoma's fuel budgets, the two biggest players in the game were OnCue and QuikTrip.

QuikTrip was the old man atop the mountain, quite literally for decades now in Oklahoma... but they've spent the last thirty-ish years retreating back into the Northeastern corner of the state, comfortable as royal monarchs in their territory.

In the mid-2000s, Stillwater-based OnCue started to slowly expand the burgeoning empire, springing new locations up around the Oklahoma City metro area. What started as a handful of large stores quickly became 75 locations and they're still growing.

OnCue Facebook
OnCue Facebook

The Perception

I realize this may seem a little odd, but this is a legitimate talking point across OKC and Tulsa.

On the topic of OnCue being a perceived threat to QuikTrip, the perception and rumor have always been "OnCue and QuikTrip have an unspoken agreement to respect each other's borders."

I've put in the effort to seek out any sort of agreement between the two chains... read through dozens of CEO interviews, trade-specific sources and websites, even the gas station forums--yes, there are gas station forums on the internet--but I can't find anything concrete on the assumed respected borders of OnCue and QuikTrip.

However, I did find an interview with OnCue CEO Jim Griffith about the comparisons people were making between the two brands. On the topic of OnCue being seen as the "new" QuikTrip, Griffith had this to say...

[QuikTrip] is one of the best retailers in the country. I just think the world of them... Someday maybe I can grow up and be QuikTrip.

Testing Borders

While the assumption was that two gasoline and fountain drink giants were comfortable respecting each other's boundaries, there were small encroachments over the years. The new challenger has tested the resolve of the old buck.

OnCue expanded into the Northeast corner of Oklahoma with new locations along the imaginary border, but it was the Bartlesville, OK location that quite literally raised eyebrows. The online gas station forums went abuzz with talks of all-out war.

Bartlesville is and isn't in the Tulsa metro area. It's close enough to qualify, but the proud people of Frank Phillips metropolis insist they stand alone as a Northern Oklahoma beacon of what great people can do...

Between us, it's another small town that survives by the grace of Tulsa. They fancy themselves to be an independent economic hub like Ponca City, but they aren't.

With the location in Bartlesville and an even closer-to-Tulsa location in Cleveland, OK, conclusions were drawn in popular opinion that OnCue is baiting QuikTrip into one huge glorious gas station war for the hearts and minds of Okies.

QuikTrip strikes back.

With QT's announcement of their first OKC Metro location, it appears the challenge is being met with equal force.

While both brands will likely continue to expand into each other's perceived territories, the victor in popular opinion seems to lean heavily toward QuikTrip's corner. They've been around a lot longer, have a very entrenched hoard of superfans, and have the backing of their national chain outside of the state.

QuikTrip will undoubtedly be the victor in this fight until the Shogun of gas stations decides to take on the king.

Canva, QT, Bucee's
Canva, QT, Bucee's

As they all fight amongst themselves, the real winners will absolutely be the people of OK.

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After compiling information from social media, here's a quick rundown on the locations Okies think would be a perfect fit for 24/7 hot brisket on the board.

Gallery Credit: Kelso

Oklahoma's Best Gas Station Chains

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Gallery Credit: Kelso

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Keep in mind that this isn't every speed trap in Oklahoma. 55% of all Oklahoma towns generate at least 10% of their municipal revenue... These are just the overachievers.

Gallery Credit: Kelso


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