You pump it: Popular full-service station bites dust
Charlottesville westsiders may have assumed that they'd always have a place that would pump their gas, wash their windshields, and check their oil. So when the pumps at the IDG Citgo on Ivy Road were covered in black plastic and the prices removed from the "We Pump It" sign October 1, some concerned customers hoped it was just a temporary gas shortage, and that soon, all would be right with the world again and Oliver, Bill and Bobby would be there with their friendly smiles and efficient fills.
But after two weeks, and no signs of life at the Ivy Road station, the grim truth could not be avoided: We Pump It would pump no more.
The station closed not due to any credit crisis, oil price shocks, or even a spate of drive-aways–- not that anyone would try that here. The business ended over the parent company's decision to get out of the retail fuel business.
"Our company doesn't own or operate convenience stores or gas stations," says Joe Campbell. The director of operations at Gainesville, Georgia-based Mansfield Oil, Campbell says the station was simply a casualty of Mansfield's focus on wholesale sales.
The Charlottesville station was Mansfield's only retail outpost, so when the company's lease with landowner Barbara Talbott expired September 30, Mansfield decided not to renew.
"We didn't have the infrastructure to support it," explains Campbell, conceding that the station's five employees got pink slips.
"The people were very very polite and very cheerful–- and very nice," says disappointed customer Louise Greer.
The Hook was unable to reach landlord Talbott; but her accountant, Rodney Deane, tells us that her husband, William Talbott, built the original station on Ivy Road, as well as now-defunct stations on Cherry Avenue and in Ruckersville.
Deane does not foresee another gas station at the Ivy Road site, and says the pumps and tanks will be removed. "There's not a lot of people who want to start in the gas business," he points out, and suggests, "It could be a sub shop."
As those plastic-covered gas pumps stand silent, longtime customer Greer laments the loss of a station that not only matched the prices at the much larger Shell station next door, but also provided a discount at its own on-site car wash when she got a fill-up–- and even one day when she did not.
"It was kind of a throwback," Greer says, "a small station that gave you personalized service. I'm not sure where to go now."
Full service is still available at places like Finley's Exxon on Barracks Road, Tarleton's Oak on High Street and WoCo on Seminole Trail, and of course in New Jersey and Oregon, where it's the law. But for regulars at We Pump It, filling up just won't be the same.
Last updated October 20.