Business & Economy

Holiday break: In parts of Minnesota, familiar gas station name is going away

A gas station and convenience store
A Holiday gas station and convenience store in Rochester, Minn., is seen during its conversion to the Circle K brand this month. The owner of both brands says its changing Holiday stations over to the Circle K name in some markets.
Jeff Kiger | Post Bulletin

Updated: March 29, 9:50 a.m. | Posted: March 28, 6 a.m.

An iconic Minnesota brand is vanishing from parts of the state, nearly seven years after it was acquired by another company.

The Rochester Post-Bulletin reported this week that eight Holiday gas stations and convenience stores in the city are being fully converted to the Circle K brand.

The same thing happened in Owatonna earlier this month, according to the People’s Press.

It’s the result of Holiday — whose first location opened in Lindstrom in 1939 — being acquired by Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard in 2017.

Couche-Tard — which roughly translates to “night owl” — also owns the Circle K brand, which it’s prioritized in recent years. It has thousands of locations worldwide.

When it purchased privately-owned, Minnesota-based Holiday from the Erickson family in 2017, Couche-Tard said it planned to keep the Holiday name on the more-than-500 stores it acquired, citing its name recognition.

But there were smaller shifts in the years since then, such as Holiday stores carrying Circle K-branded merchandise, and employees wearing Circle K uniforms. And now some Minnesota Holidays are being fully converted to the new name, including exterior signage.

“We have been converting Holiday stores in certain areas to the global Circle K brand, taking a deliberate market-by-market approach. We’ve completed these conversions in select markets in several other states over the past two years, and work is now underway in Rochester,” Circle K / Couche-Tard head of global communications Chris Barnes said in an email.

Barnes said he didn’t have any information on whether the rebranding will continue elsewhere in Minnesota, including the Twin Cities.

A gas station and convenience store at night
A Holiday gas station and convenience store in West St. Paul, as seen on Wednesday.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

He did say that the company has been “maintaining all grocery alliance partnerships” — such as the My Cub Rewards program that allows Cub Foods shoppers to earn fuel discounts at Holiday stations — after rebranding stations.

“We’re mainly changing the outside with these conversions,” Barnes said. “Meanwhile, it’s business as usual in terms of the experience.”

As Barnes noted, the changeover to Circle K is a process that’s been happening, market by market, since 2022. That’s when Holiday stations in Sioux Falls, S.D., were switched over to Circle K. The Argus Leader reported they were the first Holidays to be rebranded as Circle K.

Last November, the Daily Press in Ashland, Wis., reported that Holiday stations in that city and nearby Washburn, Wis., had changed over to the Circle K name.

Later the same month, a TV station in Marquette, Mich., reported that at least some Holiday stations in the Upper Peninsula also were being switched to the Circle K brand.

In Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News reported last month that several Holiday stations there were being converted to Circle K. The company told the newspaper that it expected to complete the rebranding of its 25 Alaska locations within several months.

And earlier this month, a radio station in Bismarck, N.D., as well as the Billings Gazette in Montana, reported that the Holiday name was being removed from gas stations in those communities, and replaced with Circle K.

The Circle K name dates back to 1951, when Fred Hervey purchased three Kay’s Food Stores in El Paso, Texas, and eventually renamed them “Circle K.” The chain was acquired by Alimentation Couche-Tard in 2003.

The recent removal of the Holiday name from some gas stations in Minnesota follows the end of another familiar Minnesota-founded gas station brand — SuperAmerica — back in 2018. That year, Marathon Petroleum Corp. acquired the SuperAmerica chain and decided to rebrand those stores under the Speedway name.

The SuperAmerica chain had been founded in downtown St. Paul in 1960.