There’s a new feel at a Watertown gas station, where the new owners want to bring back the experience of an old-time fill-up station.
Express Tire & Auto took over the gas station next door on Main Street in ealy May, and owner Darren Cummings gave it a makeover and a new attitude.
“I’m trying to bring back the old-fashioned gas station feel,” Cummings said. “You pull in, a gas attendant is there, he is going to wash your windows, greet you with a smile, be accommodating, fill your washer fluid no charge. Who does that? Nobody.”
Express Tire took over Arto’s Service Station in May, but even before that work started on renovating the place.
“We’re doing it over top-to-bottom,” Cummings said. “We replaced all the lighting with LED lighting, put music out there at the pumps. When someone pulls up they have a nice, clean, safe, open atmosphere.”
People have taken notice in the few weeks that Express Tire has been open.
“People have been thanking us,” Cummings said.
Cummings had his eye on the gas station for years. Express Tire opened in 1999 at 433 Main St., and Arto’s opened at 441 Main St. the same year. Over the years, Cummings recalls, the two owners would joke back-and-forth, “Do you want to buy my place, I’m selling.” About a 1.5 years ago, the discussions got more serious, Cummings said, and after a few attempts, they came to a deal about 10 months ago.
“Arto, who was the previous owner, he has been really cooperative, a huge help with the transfer of ownership,” Cumming said.
Along with the new gas business, the new property gives Express Tire three more lifts to do auto repair. The business has already seen a big increase in the number of cars they have serviced, Cummings said.
Part of this was getting the customers who used to go to Arto’s. Cummings said customers of Express Tire are provided with one of seven loaner cars, if needed, and they get digital reports, photos and videos of their service.
The gas station is open seven days a week, while auto service is available five days a week.
“What we’ve done, we’ve told our clientele, whatever your needs are we will do it during the week,” Cummings said. “If we have to pick your car up from your driveway and bring it back and fourth to your home or to your office, we will accommodate whatever your needs are.”
The gas station also offers bags of ice, firewood, and it will have propane tanks. It will also have items for sale inside.
“We will have a double-door refrigerator with the necessities: Coke, water, milk,” said Cummings, who is considering running a full convenience store at the gas station.
After years of dreaming about what could be done with the site next door, Cummings said he is happy to see the results.
“I have seen the potential,” Cummings said. “My vision has come true, over there for the most part.”