By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – The yellow and black “we pump at self serve prices” sign under the similarly colored dual gas price marquee that marked one of Tupelo’s last remaining full-service gas stations is coming down with the rest of the store.
Savings – it’s name spelled out in red, with dollar signs used for the “s” letters – pumped its last gallon of gas Thursday morning.
The North Gloster Street store opened at its usual time at 6 a.m., but closed mid-morning as a fuel truck arrived earlier than expected to pump the remaining gasoline out of the underground tanks.
By mid-afternoon, workers were taking out what remained of the store, including beverage coolers, furniture and shelving.
Demolition of the iconic standby will likely be completed by Saturday morning.
“We’ve had a lot of repeat customers who are going to miss this; I’m going to miss this,” said Coley Thompson, who managed the location for the past three years.
Thompson took a photo of the gas station early Thursday morning just as the sun was beginning to rise, knowing it would be the last time he’d open the doors and turn on the pumps at the store.
“The store’s been opening at 6 a.m. every day, but this was it,” he said.
Savings Oil has stood for more than 60 years. It was a Standard Oil station for years, before being absorbed into Dodge’s, the company famous for its fried-chicken-selling convenience stores.
Lindsey Cochran of Dodge’s said the old Savings Oil store “doesn’t fit today’s business model.”
Indeed, few stores sell fuel only, and other than some cigarettes, soft drinks and snacks, the Savings Oil store made the bulk of its revenue from gas sales.
Today’s modern convenience stores sell hot prepared foods along with a full line of cold and frozen beverages, coffee, snack foods and even a few household items. Fuel is secondary, especially with only a few cents being made on every gallon of gas.
So what’s the future for the location?
Dodge’s owns the property and will completely clear the site for future use.
Cochran didn’t provide too many details.
“There are a lot of options,” he said.
Building a modern Dodge’s store is certainly an option, he added.
The closing of Savings Oil leaves at least one full-service station in Tupelo – the Pure All location at 1215 W. Main St.
Owner Gene Autry Turner has been at the location for 13 years and offers to wash windshields, check tire pressure and check oil levels if requested.
“We’re a dying breed,” Turner said.