“Compared to established dealers, self-serves offered price discounts, high volume (self-serves were the first multi-pump stations), novelty, convenience (generally 24 hours), reduced wait (averaging 2 minutes per car), safety (automatic shut-off nozzles, enforced rules), attractive and spacious layout, and glamor (roving female cashiers).”
In 1930, as described in yesterday’s post, a new form of competition arose wherein the motorist got out of the vehicle to self-served and received a lower price for gasoline or diesel. Protest from established dealers, in alliance with local fire marshals, however, led to municipal ordinances to hamper self-serves.
A promising form of low-cost gasoline marketing, rivaling the discounts of tracksiders (stations selling discounted gasoline obtained directly from tank cars at railroad crossings) was postponed.
California … and the Nation
On May 1, 1947, a large self-service operation opened in California that received wide publicity and reawakened entrepreneurs to this particular form of discounting.…
“For years, the lobby of small gas station owners worried they would be crushed by big oil companies, which then owned most stations, and could afford to install the modern pumps and canopies self-service demanded. ‘They would have been 10 or 15 cents a gallon less than mine, so they would have buried me,’ said Sal Risalvato, who opened a station in Paramus [New Jersey] in the late 1970s.”
– Kate Zernike , “Drop That Gas Nozzle: New Jersey Is Full-Service Island, and Likes It,” New York Times, May 23, 2015, A1.
Saturday’s New York Times front-page article, Drop That Gas Nozzle: New Jersey Is Full-Service Island, and Likes It, brought the peculiar politics of New Jersey’s ban on self-service gasoline/diesel to a national audience. Fines for self-pumping start at $50 and grow to $500 for repeat offenders.…
“Beginning with the Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer, Americans will spend their hard-earned dollars traveling to visit family, friends, and the great outdoors. Meanwhile, Big Oil will be making huge profits off of these travel expenditures on fuel, while at the same time fighting for decreased public health and climate-change protections.”
Dear CAP: Get a life. Get happy. Summer beckons. Not only bike and hike but drive, bus, train, and fly to a better environment–your self-selected environment.
The automobile and the open road are environmentalism-on-wheels and freedom to escape the concrete for the great beyond. Mountains, rivers, hills, forests, even beautiful green golf courses–it is all a drive away. (And if it makes you happy CAP, those ‘huge profits’ of “Big Oil’ are absent.)
Everyone else: forget the spin and go for a spin!