Petrol station closing due to ‘tough market’

Curson Motors Caltex Gore co-owner Maree Gentle has enjoyed her 32 years of owning the business...
Curson Motors Caltex Gore co-owner Maree Gentle has enjoyed her 32 years of owning the business and is sad it has closed its doors for the last time. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON
It is the end of an era for one Gore business - Curson Motors Caltex Gore closed yesterday.

The business has been owned by Maree and Mel Gentle since May 1991.

Mrs Gentle said it was very sad the business had closed but it was not economical to keep it going.

"It’s an extremely tough market to be in, given the number of fuel outlets in Gore.

"We’ve got seven in a population of 9000."

The economic situation had not helped.

"People haven’t got money to spend."

The business was holding its own until the end of last year but then profits plummeted.

"The costs are going up but the profits haven’t been."

There was a perception that self-serve outlets were cheaper.

"Some days they are. Some days they can sell it at 20c a litre cheaper than you can and then other days they’re on a par.

"People go there without doing their maths."

From the outside looking in, people assumed the business was doing well.

"People are gobsmacked this is not a viable business."

Jimmy Curson started the business in 1956 and later Russell and Avis McDonald bought it. Initially Mr and Mrs Gentle employed Warren Beattie to manage the business but later Mrs Gentle took on the role to keep it viable.

It was disappointing not being able to sell the business as a going concern, she said.

"We wanted to be able to give that legacy to somebody else that Jimmy Curson started."

One of the aspects of the job she had enjoyed was watching the growth of young people who worked at the station.

"A lot of the kids would start off as shy young men and women and they would just bloom."

She had enjoyed her time in the business.

Customer reaction to the closure had been "heartwarming".

"People have been coming in and saying how sad they are and thanking us."

She retired in 2018 and longtime employee Gael Perry managed the business "admirably".

The service station had been on the market since May and there was the possibility another business would use the site.

The AA driver and vehicle licensing agency would relocate elsewhere in town.

- By Sandy Eggleston