Forecourt Trader
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Sudden sympathy

06 September, 2007
Page 4 
Suddenly there seems to be a lot of sympathy for the plight of the poor old service station. Site numbers have been tumbling for years, so it's ironic that when the rate of closure seems actually to be slowing, there's quite a lot of media fuss about it.
Perhaps it was a slow news week - there's usually a dearth of stories in August - but more encouragingly, perhaps it's the sign of a mood change. There's been a lot of publicity about the demise of Post Offices recently, and their key role in many communities - so people have latched on to the similarity of the role a service station can play.Plus, with the increasing focus on global warming and anything worthy to do with taking better care of the planet, more people are making an effort to support local businesses. Even my local shops - a once rather dismal mix of retail offerings that closed at lunchtime and on Wednesday afternoons - has suddenly sprung into life with an Italian coffee bar/bakery, and butcher/grocer with 'pork from Sevenoaks' and 'runner beans from Hurst Green'. Very tasty too.Supermarkets are also getting bad press, with the Office of Fair Trading's investigation prompting negative stories of bullying suppliers and suchlike. But then there's the most obvious fact - motorists are simply beginning to notice that they just can't find a petrol station when they need one. This is the chance you've all been waiting for - to be greeted with open arms. So make the most of it.