By Greg Bennett
It will be the end of an era for Shelburne when a service station that existed for decades in the downtown closes on Feb. 3.
Operated and then owned by the Dexter family since 1968, the Esso Service Station at the corner of King and Water Streets has been a long-time fixture in the community.
John Dexter blames the closure on a “perfect storm” of conditions, which include a need for major upgrades to the business, a sluggish economy and the fact that he and his co-owner brother Mike aren’t getting any younger.
While the gas station is closing, they will continue to operate the repair shop on King Street.
The brothers are hopeful another business will someday open at the often busy intersection.
“Hopefully we will sell the property and someone will put it to good use,” said John.
The brothers have lots of good memories from their years at the station and John says he has enough stories from his experiences “to write a book.”
Mike says it will be a sad day when they turn off the pumps for the last time. The corner has been the site of a gas station since the 1930s. He started working at the station as a teenager in the 1960s when it was owned by Norman Hamilton. A few years later, Mike and his father James took over the business.
Times have certainly changed since the days when every pump was full-service and gas was 50 cents a gallon.
He noted that over the years the little service station welcomed many newcomers to Shelburne, both visitors and new residents.
“We were like the VIC centre,” said John. “We tried to give people a good first impression of the town.”
As the news was getting out in the community about the impending closure, customers were dropping in to express their thanks for the years of service. John noted that two town councillors had already made a visit to offer their best wishes.
The business will say goodbye to its last customers in a few weeks. It will close on Feb. 3 at 6 p.m. or perhaps a day or two earlier if the fuel supply runs out.
Both John and Mike offered their appreciation to the community and the many customers that have supported the business over the years.