Why I thought twice before personally boycotting BP gas stations... make your own decision.

What does the oil spill and a discussion on a "boycott" of BP have in common with an insurance agent's blog? Not much... But, I wanted to put my two cents in because the "boycott BP!!!" fad is really picking up steam.

The explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20th of 2010 quite possibly could have been prevented. The reaction of BP and decisions made on how to stop the flow of oil 5,000 feet below the water's surface could have been more timely and effective (it's still gushing). The federal government's response... well, I won't go there,

This is a tragedy.
- 11 people lost their lives.
- Hundreds of workers and their families will live with the memory of that tragic and frightening day for many years.
- Thousands of local businesses will be detrimentally impacted by the effects of the spill reaching the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and beyond.
- The environment now has to recover. It will recover. Disasters happen all of the time naturally all of the world and the earth is still here. (wait, let's not go here)
- The list can go on. We don't even know the full effects of what is to come.

Oil is still flowing.

I own a small insurance agency in the state of Alabama. Oil reached our shores last week. Twitter, Facebook, the Blogosphere, and websites are going crazy about the idea of boycotting "BP." Well, the main way to boycott the company is perceived as not patronizing their 11,500 gas stations in the U.S. Yes, BP attributes most of it's profits from the sale of gasoline and oil based products. But, who owns the gas stations?

BP Gas Stations are owned by individuals. The average station owner has 1 location. They make a very small profit - just a few pennies - off of every gallon of gasoline that is sold. They make their total profit on the items that are sold inside the store (snacks, drinks, food, tobacco, etc). I know several gas station owners in Shelby County, Alabama and my great grandfather started a wholesale business that supplied gas stations with goods for around 80 years... there are very tight margins in this business and it can be very hard to make a profit.

BP gas station owners had nothing to do with this tragic event. They are small business owners who live in our neighborhoods and depend on the sale of their products inside the store to make their living. If I boycott a BP gas station, I am boycotting a local business owner who did nothing wrong.

This is why I thought twice before boycotting BP gas stations. You can make your own decision. As a small business owner who can't always control things 'from the top' I hope that people want to do business with ME and help me provide for my family. We're about to drive 180 miles round trip for a birthday celebration for my grandmother. I'm going to stop at my local BP to fill up.