Fueling Success on Main Street: Pari Patel and Tru Blu
After 19 years of operating his business in Exmore, Pari Patel, owner of Tru Blu at 4015 Main Street, knows almost all of his customers by name. Most are locals, with only an occasional out-of-town visitor who happens to venture off Route 13. Pari, who enjoys the quieter pace and friendly atmosphere of Exmore, prefers it that way.
Pari credits "luck" with bringing him to Exmore and Tru Blu. After graduating college in his hometown of Grundy, VA (an area near Appalachia), he connected with his brother-in-law Rajan in New Jersey to consider starting a family business. While visiting in Virginia Beach, they came to the Eastern Shore to check out a business listed for sale. It was the Corner Mart in Exmore. But a business that was not for sale captured their attention: a nearby gas station with a higher traffic volume that promised greater potential. Peri and Rajjan contacted the owner. The timing was ideal. The owner was ready to retire and agreed to sell the business to them. Luck!
More than a few of Pari's customers worked at the original gas station as high schoolers. They enjoy recounting the days before the Bay Bridge Tunnel put an end to ferry transit to and from the Eastern Shore. At that time, Tru Blu in Exmore, a full-service station, was the first place to gas up for cars coming off the ferry. The lines were long with customers waiting up to thirty minutes for service. The young employees would rush out to pump, check under hoods and wash windshields! Then a lull until the next ferry arrived.
Today, the flow of traffic is more consistent and unhurried. Even though Tru Blu has expanded to include a convenience store, gaming area, kerosene sales and more. Peri and his team are able to give personal attention to each customer.
In addition to the Tru Blu gas station and convenience store, Peri is also a designated dealer for U-Haul truck and cargo van rentals. Over the years Pari has experienced the sense of community that defines the Town of Exmore. Folks take care of each other here, he says. We feel lucky to be part of this.