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Where In The World? Farmington Store Connects Customers
They come from all points of the earth - from Kazakhstan to South Korea - winding their way from the Bay Area to Yosemite, and right in the middle is Farmington's Circle K.

Tourists have made the store at the intersection of Highway 4 and Escalon-Bellota Road in Farmington a stop on their way from here to there, and a world map on one wall of the gas station and convenience store charts the visitors.

Lead customer service representative Ed Adams at Circle K said the idea for the map actually grew out of necessity, a way to interact in a friendly way with the tourists.

"They often rent cars in San Francisco, and this is the first place they stop for gas," Adams explained.

What tourists sometimes find, however, is that since a zip code is needed to pump gas outside with a credit or debit card and they very often don't have a zip code, they have to come inside for service.

"If they have a zip code, it doesn't work here," Adams said of the varying digits of country codes from around the world.

While customers would sometimes come in frustrated that their card wouldn't work outside, Adams said having the map of the world on the wall and asking the visitors to place a thumbtack on their home country helped to get a conversation started and calm them down.

"It helps us make peace with the visitors when they come through here," he said.

"We had some from Tahiti in recently," he added, chuckling. "I told them it's the wrong time for you to come here."

Adams said the map has become quite a conversation piece, both among locals and the tourists who provide plenty of business for the Circle K store. It has helped employees build a rapport with the customers and thumbtacks dot the map showing there have been visitors from New Zealand, Australia, Guam, Argentina, Mexico and more.

"Sometimes a whole group will rent motorcycles in San Francisco and they come in," Adams said. "They'll have a van that goes with them, they stop here for supplies and then head to Yosemite."

The Circle K has been open a little over a year and Adams said it really has become a gathering spot, from the regularly scheduled early morning meeting of local farmers to the out of town visitors.

There was a contest to name the map wall and the winning entry - 'We Serve the World at Circle K Farmington' - came from a retired Marine from Copperopolis, who received a $50 gift certificate, part coming from the local store and part provided by the Circle K parent corporation.

"Circle K prides itself on fresh coffee and clean restrooms," Adams summed up. "This is like an oasis in the desert. It has definitely filled a void."