BLUEFIELD — Before computers and automation arrived, a visit to the local gas station meant pulling up to the pumps and waiting for an attendant come and fill up the tank and perhaps wash the windows and check the oil. Self-serve pumps turned that personal service into a rare event, but it’s still something motorists can experience at a Mercer County station.
Goins Gas & Produce LLC along Princeton Avenue has been pumping gasoline for customers since the first day it opened in 1956, said Charles Goins III. Cars and trucks were passing by and a train was rumbling down the nearby tracks as he explained why the business has kept offering personal service.
“We just feel like it’s something good for the community, we do have a few credit accounts that we use and a lot of them, they still buy gas from us,” Goins said. “There are still a few people who appreciate us to pump their gas. We have several elderly who want us to pump their gas and they can come in, we pump it and they don’t have to get out. We take the change to them.”
Customers also like the fact they don’t have to worry about staining their clothes or shoes with gasoline.
“Well, when you get gas on you, you wear it all day and you smell it all day,” Goins stated.
A pickup truck arrived and employee James Anderson went out to fill up its tank. Jesse Dotson of Bluefield, who comes to the station for both gas and service for his truck, said that he always appreciates the gesture.
“It’s old school all the way,” he said. “They need more places like this, and they’re great people, great Americans. It’s good to see a little bit of the past going on. I’ve been coming here the last three years. They’ll do you right.”
Anderson said that younger customers and out-of-state visitors heading for the Hatfield-McCoy Trail are sometimes surprised when he or another employee comes out to pump gas for them. For some customers, it’s a step back in time. For others, it’s a new experience.
“We have a few people from out-of-town who stop and say they haven’t seen it in years,” he said. “And we have some people who have never seen it. They give you a funny look when you walk up to their car.”
Debbie McClanahan of Princeton went to Goins to get a new sticker, but she occasionally buys gas there, too.
“It’s think it’s a great thing that they still have that around because you don’t have that personal service anymore,” she said.
— Contact Greg Jordan at email@example.com