Florence Mobil to Close For Good
By Edward Shanahan
A Florence institution equivalent to the Miss Florence Diner and Bird’s Store, the Mobil service station at the corner of Main and Maple Streets is expected to close for good today (Sept. 27), according to co-owner Dale Morrow.
Morrow, who along with his brother Don, more commonly known as Beetle, said once the small amount of gasoline (300 gallons) remaining in the tanks are sold, the business will shut down.
And by Oct. 3, he expects the Exxon-Mobil Corp. will flush the tanks, board up the gasoline pumps and cordon off the property.
In the process, a big hole will be created in the landscape and the economic life of downtown Florence.
For the last several months, the Morrows, who have operated the filling station since 1969, have been attempting to purchase the site from the oil company, with the view of reselling it to a large gasoline distributor, such as Springfield-based F.L. Roberts, but no deal could be struck.
The Morrows had concluded that a projected steep increase in their monthly rent would not allow them to continue their current operations and make a go of it. And so, when negotiations for the purchase and resale of the property broke down, the only choice left was to shut down their business, according to Dale Morrow.
Asked abut his reaction to having to close a business he has operated for so many years, Morrow said he had “mixed feelings.” The last few months have been extremely stressful as he tried to work out a deal with Exxon-Mobil.
Yet, he is sad to have to walk away from a business that has been such an important part of the Florence community and for him and his brother. “I feel terrible.”
“But you’re dealing with a giant,” he said. “They don’t really care,” about local station operators, referring to his inability to work out an arrangement with the corporation.
He said he could not predict what might happen to the property, whether it could reopen as a service station, although the lot is considered too small to accommodate one of today’s gas station and convenience store complexes.
Beetle has already moved the auto repair business to Hatfield Street at its intersection with North Elm Street, so the two bays in Florence were being used only for car inspection. With the closing of the station, Dale Morrow said he plans to join his brother at the Hatfield Street operation.
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