It’s taken some time, but a Fondren business is finally ready to officially say welcome back to the brand where it all began.
Gulf Auto Care, at the corner of Woodrow Wilson Avenue and West Street on the western edge of the neighborhood, will celebrate their grand opening on Tuesday, July 21 from 11am-5pm.
Owned by the Phillips family since 1948, Gulf Auto Care had been a Gulf station in its early days. But Gulf was bought out by BP in 1985. It’s taken 30 years, but Randy Phillips, the son and nephew of long-time owners, Opal and Alfred Phillips, couldn’t be happier. He says, “it’s good to see the emblem and those colors back again.”
The transition back to Gulf began for Phillips in May of last year, almost two years after BP sold their Texas City, Texas refinery to Marathon Petroleum. When given the choice, Phillips remembered a familiar sign he had seen a few years before in Kentucky.
“I was in Bowling Green to see my son and noticed a Gulf station,” he says. “I had to stop and take a picture of the sign!” When he returned to Jackson, he asked shop manager Angie Templeton to research the company, not realizing Gulf’s plans for expansion. His full service station, one of the only remaining in Jackson, was the first to take on the brand again in Mississippi.
What has changed with the new moniker and re-branding? Not much, according to Templeton. “We are run the way we have always been,” she notes. “It’s a family setting so we treat customers as family. We pride ourselves on old-fashioned values for a modern day world.”
Gulf Auto Care offers a full service island where your gas is pumped, your levels are topped off, your windshield cleaned and tire pressure checked. In addition, the station can change oil, hand wash vehicles, repair or replace tires and service other minor repair needs. The station has also added diesel fuel to their offerings.
On Tuesday, Gulf Oil’s national team will stop by to pass out promotional items and the station will offer free hotdogs and cold drinks. There will also be drawings for a free car wash, an oil change and some $25 gift cards and maybe a couple of classic cars on display. Phillips is hopeful his uncle and dad, now 88 and 82, will also be able to stop by.
Many from the older generation have stopped back by the Gulf station, too. “We’ve picked up quite a few old customers,” he explains with a big smile. “They talk about their experiences with Gulf when they were a kid, buying a 10 cent Coca-Cola. It brings back memories when I used to come here as a kid, too.”
Owned by the Haseotes family in Maryland, Gulf is making their way across the country, expanding into Tennessee, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, with operations in 31 states and the Caribbean.