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    Independent Station Stops Gas Sales

    Owners plan to continue operating the auto-repair and towing parts of the business.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- One of the last full-service gasoline stations in central Ohio is shutting down its pumps for good. Broad & James Shell will close the fuel and convenience store portions of its business today after 35 years as an area mainstay, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

    The co-owners, brothers Jim and Tim Shriner, told the paper they made the decision last week. They will continue to operate the auto-repair and towing parts of the business.

    "It's tough," said Jim Shriner. "I don't like telling people they don't have a job."

    About 10 of the station's 40 workers will be laid off.

    He said the station has been losing money on gas for some time. As an independent retailer, he’s found his retail-chain competitors are able to sell gas for less than his wholesale cost. He doesn't know how the competition does it, but knows he can't.

    The station was opened in 1973 by the Shriners' father, Wallace Shriner, who died in 1999.

    Until this summer, the station had a dedicated full-service pump. Customers who pulled up were greeted by an employee who pumped their gas, checked their oil and washed their windshield. The cost of the service was an extra 40 cents per gallon.

    When gas prices climbed to near-record highs in the summer, the owners decided the full-service pump didn't get enough business to justify its existence. Although the pump was changed to self-service, station employees continued to pump gas for regular customers for the same price as self-service. Shriner told the newspaper the station still gets about one customer per hour who wants to get his or her gas pumped.

    With the Shell station's closing, the number of local full-service gas stations in the area is in the single digits. The precise number depends on how "full service" is defined.

    "It's a tough business to be in right now," said Michael Miller, owner of Arlington Marathon at 1897 Northwest Blvd., who has no plans to discontinue full service at his station.

    Among the other full-service stations in the area are the Marathon stations at 3116 Riverside Dr. in Upper Arlington and 1401 Bethel Rd. on the Northwest Side, and BP stations at 2139 Fishinger Rd. in Upper Arlington and 640 High St. in Worthington.

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