By Keysha Drexel
This week Jack King and his family will meet with supporters from the Mountain Brook community to try to find a way to save the only full-service gas station in Crestline.
Since King announced that his lease on the Crestline Shell Station property on Church Street could end in September and result in the gas station closing, he said he’s received an outpouring of support from his customers.
“The response from the community has been fantastic and just overwhelming,” King said. “I have customers that are trying to help out financially so we can keep the station open. Everybody is really bending over backwards to find some kind of solution.”
King and his family have leased the property at 80 Church Street for 36 years. King said he took over the lease from his father in 1980.
“I live in Southside, but I really feel like my family has been a part of this community for a very long time,” he said. “We know our customers and they know us. This community really is like a big family.”
Part of that big family includes longtime employees like Danny Barker, who has been working at the Crestline Shell Station for 25 or 26 years. King’s sister also works at the station.
King said he now waits on the children and grandchildren of the customers he’s had since the station first opened.
“It’s been a long-lasting relationship where we’ve become friends with our customers. We’ve helped people move furniture, we’ve driven them to the store,” he said. “We’ve been good to the community, and they’ve been very good to us.”
And now that McPherson Oil Company, from whom King leases the property, has given him 90 days to either buy or vacate the premises, the community has stepped up to help save the Crestline Shell Station.
“The phone has been ringing off the hook, and people have been coming in left and right to ask what they can do to help. It’s just very touching,” King said.
King said while he’s not in a financial situation to buy the property, McPherson Oil has offered him the first right to buy it.
“Business is business, and I completely understand that,” King said. “We’ve always had a good relationship with McPherson Oil, and I hope that with the help of our loyal customers, that can continue. That’s the ultimate goal for me.”
King said it’s his understanding that if he can’t purchase the lease for the Crestline Shell Station, it will close.
“That’s going to be a blow to this community because we are the only place here where you get full service,” he said. “We pump your gas, we air up the tires on your kid’s bike. You just don’t see that a lot anymore, and I think it’s something that people in Crestline really appreciate and something they don’t want to see go anytime soon.”