Business

Neighborhood, customers say goodbye to long-time Lansdowne business

Louise Hobbs, who has patronized the station for over 35 years, visited with employee Danny Shouse on the final day of business as the Lansdowne BP station on Tates Creek Rd. in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, June 1, 2013. Photo by Matt Goins
Louise Hobbs, who has patronized the station for over 35 years, visited with employee Danny Shouse on the final day of business as the Lansdowne BP station on Tates Creek Rd. in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, June 1, 2013. Photo by Matt Goins Herald-Leader

First the neighboring firefighters came over to pay their respects. Then came the lady from the fitness studio who bought her M&Ms from its candy supply.

The customers came in a steady stream Saturday to bid farewell to the full-service BP station and garage at Lansdowne, which first opened 48 years ago.

The gas was gone, and purchasers were looking over the BP garage's equipment.

Driving everything from a sleek Jaguar to a battered Dodge Intrepid, the customers paid their respects to the neighborhood fixture and the full-service station — an increasingly rare segment of the car-service landscape.

The '60s ranch-style building — which includes a sign that says "Kiss a Mechanic" and two pictures of Elvis Presley — will be torn down and the space used for additional parking for the Lansdowne shopping center, according to the shopping center's management office.

Terry Gillispie said that he started working at the station, which was the Lansdowne center's first building, at 16 and has been there 40 years.

"We've got a loyal following of full-serve customers," he said.

Customer Mike Stratton, who has been using the service station for more than 30 years, was unhappy.

"They have serviced my boats to bicycles," he said.

Customer Aureol Moore said that she feels bad for the station's long-term employees.

Of Gillispie, she said, "What's the poor man going to do Monday?"

Katrina Shouse, wife of station employee Danny Shouse, wondered how the family will meet its expenses now that her husband, who has worked for the station more than 10 years, is unemployed.

The station's employees found out about the closing on Thursday.

W. Jay Hall, president and chief executive officer of Traxx/Thoroughbred Energy, which owned the station, said the employees may be relocating to his company's other stations in such cities as Cadiz and Pikeville.

Already, BP employee Caleb Hildebrand was considering how to continue to serve the station's longtime customers. He wants to start a roving auto-service business in the area, where he can go to customers who need automotive help. He said he plans to put up signs for the new business on Monday.

The decision to close the station was difficult, Hall said, but the full-service station business model has been in decline for several decades. Self-service stations are common in Kentucky.

"We held out a long time, as long as we could, until the lease ran out," he said. "But you have to have enough business to pay the bills."

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