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Love’s opens to travelers of I-75 in North Fort Myers

August 20, 2014
By CHUCK BALLARO (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Cars and people streamed off of I-75 at Exit 143 on Bayshore Road for gas and a bite to eat, and locals came by to pick up a quick loaf of bread or a gallon of milk.

Those coming off the highway with their 18-wheelers had a chance to fill up and maybe take a quick shower.

That's what many have to look forward to following the opening of Love's, a truck stop and convenience store on a once desolate area off I-75, the first of what many hope will become one of many businesses to make North Fort Myers home.

Article Photos

Chuck Ballaro

Love’s is now open at the I-75 exit in North Fort Myers.

"We're very excited to be coming here. It's our southernmost location and we'll be able to provide drivers services they haven't had before," said Kealey Dorian, corporate communications specialist at Love's.

"The area is rich with tourism."

The store opened Thursday with little fanfare, only a large sign with the price for gas overlooking the highway, which they hadn't turned on yet.

But the parking lot was full of cars, with locals curious about the new business, and even though the gas pumps malfunctioned mid-afternoon, it was overall a great first day for Love's.

"We opened at 7 a.m. and did real well on the gas side as well as with the restaurants," said Tim Wipf, general manager of Love's. "We have a lot of professional drivers coming in and buying things, and we've already replaced two tires."

Love's is intended to not only serve local residents with coffee and convenience items, but also professional drivers who spend their days on the road.

Yancy Waltz, a truck driver from upstate who made a delivery in Naples, said the biggest thing going for it is the parking, which is scarce for big rig drivers.

"We needed places to park. That's the main thing, especially here in Southwest Florida," Waltz said. "This and Pilot (in Fort Myers) is it all the way to Miami for truck parking. To the north it's the I-4 interchange. Every little bit helps."

Wipf said the location will have five showers, 96 truck parking spaces, a Wendy's and Subway restaurant and a Love's Truck Tire Care Center and truck scales.

Wipf also showed other items for sale, such as advanced GPS systems for trucks, sound systems and antique scale models of cars, as well as other trucker needs, such as wiper blades, floor mats, etc.

At the truck center, there was a room loaded with tires with the smell of rubber wafting through the air as an afternoon storm approached.

The soft opening was just a preview of things to come, as the grand opening is set for Wednesday, Aug. 27, at 10:30 a.m.

The North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce will be there, and Young Lives of Lee County will be the recipient of a $2,000 check.

Dorian said Love's donates to a non-profit at every grand opening.

Members of the American Truck Historical Society will bring some antique trucks to the event so professional drivers can see what came before them, Dorian said.

"It's a big opportunity. Our team does a great job finding locations where we can serve the community and professional drivers," Dorian said. "It's a great location for us."

 
 
 

 

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