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Congressman to work behind counter at Lou Perrine's
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Congressman to work behind counter at Lou Perrine's

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BRYAN STEIL

U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil

One of Kenosha’s most unique convenience stores welcomes a new employee today.

As part of a National Association of Convenience Stores outreach program, freshman Congressman Bryan Steil, R-Wis., will be working from 1:45 to 3 p.m. at Lou Perrine’s Gas & Grocery, 5145 Sheridan Road.

Steil is expected to learn about the dynamics of operating a convenience store, receive store associate training, meet with customers and engage with constituents.

Steil represents the state’s 1st Congressional District, which covers Kenosha County, Racine County and an extended portion of southeastern Wisconsin.

“Convenience stores are vital small businesses that provide essential services to time-starved customers with one-stop shopping, grab-and-go food service, a variety of merchandise and fast transactions,” Steil said.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to participate in the NACS in-store program and witness firsthand the many benefits convenience stores offer to the residents of Kenosha.”

Family business

Lou Perrine’s Gas & Grocery has been family owned and operated since Lou Perrine Sr. opened the once small, full-service fuel station in 1954. Lou Perrine Jr. took over the business in 1985 and has since passed it on to his son Anthony Perrine.

Anthony Perrine met Steil in March at the NACS Day on the Hill in Washington, D.C.

“I’ve seen this done at other stores, but usually it’s the corporate ones,” Perrine said. “This will be a first doing it at a family-owned, independent store. He’s going to see a little bit of everything.

“We’re a melting pot. We have million dollar homes a couple blocks away. We have poverty a couple blocks away. He’s going to see all of it in a very short period of time.”

Steil could spend about 30 to 45 minutes behind the counter, where he’ll check identification, ring up customers and bag groceries, according to Perrine.

He’ll be provided with a Lou Perrine’s employee shirt and an “I love Ho Ho Cake” hat.

Mama P’s Ho Ho Cake is prepared daily by Anthony Perrine’s mother, Laurie Perrine, and comes in a variety of flavors, including original, Butterfinger, Oreo, Heath and seasonal flavors.

“He’s aware of the cakes, and he’ll get to sample some,” Anthony Perrine said. “He knows what he’s in for. It’s not some corporate structure here. We could have our own reality show.”

Discussing issues

Perrine said he’ll discuss the many challenges facing small-business owners as well as numerous topics, including Foxconn and marijuana legalization.

“It’s not as easy as TV makes it sound like to be in business right now unless you’re a major multi-national chain or one of the big players,” Anthony Perrine said. “It’s a different environment.

“I’m curious to feel him out. Some people are just wacky when it comes to politics. I’m not a Republican or a Democrat. I’m a very independent, libertarian. I’m right in the middle. I haven’t drank the Kool-Aid on either side.

“When I meet these guys, I’m always interested to see if they’re just giving talking points from their staff and repeating it or if they can think on their own and have a thought process behind their belief system.”

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