Monday, September 19, 2016

Fill ‘er up

My father was a good one for taking the family out for a spin, and on many of those spins, we headed west, out of Worcester, on Route 9. On those spins, we would pass one of my favorite gas stations.

It may seem peculiar that a child would have favorite gas stations, but I had two (neither of which was the gas station where my father filled ‘er up). One was the Esso station in Webster Square. This cathedral of fuel had a massive red dome. I adored it. The other was in Spencer, on Route 9, and had an apartment over it. And not just any old apartment. This one had a portico with stone columns that held up the front part of the apartment. I fantasized living there. What could be more fun than living with half of your home suspended over nothingness – nothingness other than a couple of gas pumps? And what could be a better bonus than being able to breathe in gasoline fumes, and seeing all those rainbow gasoline swirls that appeared in puddles after a rain storm?

Other than these two specials, most gas stations in those days were strictly utilitarian. Some were cleaner than others, but that was pretty much the only differentiator. That’s changed a bit. These days, you can find a few gas stations where they’ll still pump your gas (and, pretty please, clean your windshield) for you. And more than a few gas stations that have a convenience store where you can get junk food, sodas, and lottery tickets.

The Guess Corporation will be taking things further – a lot further – when it opens its members-only luxury GAS statoinstation in Greenwich, Connecticut. In order to join, your household has to have a net worth of $50M. But that’ll get you access to more than just a gas station. The space will also include a convenience store, designer clothing boutique and waterpark.

Once the Greenwich GP Club – the first of what the Guess folks guess will be have 250 clubs in its empire - opens,

… elites won’t have to wait next to some Joe Schmoe at the pump: A valet and concierge will greet members upon arrival before whisking their cars away to get fueled, hand-washed and waxed.

While waiting, members will be able to relax from their lives’ difficulties in a sleeping suite or catch up on business in a video-conference room…An on-site steakhouse will offer more refined food for travelers than hot dogs or beef jerky. (Source: USA Today)

Sleeping suite? It’s so taxing to motor over from your mansion in the leafy confines of Greenwich that you need to take a nap when you get there?

And although I was enough of an odd-ball that I once wanted to live over a gas station, I’ve become a bit more refined in my tastes. Sure, I’d buy a bag of M&M’s or Swedish Fish in the convenience store, but I wouldn’t actually eat under a gas station dome, hot dog or steakhouse.

“Greenwich is considered an ultra-affluent city in America, and we think it is important for GP Club to have a presence in the city,” Tiffany Taylor, a Guess Corporation vice president, said in an email to the Time.

Welcome to New England, Tiffany. But I gotta tell you, Greenwich is a town, not a city. These things matter in these parts.

The annual membership fees haven’t been revealed quite yet, but they do entitle members to take a nap, buy designer clothing, pump gas, or run a business meeting at any of the other GP Clubs.

But I don’t think there’ll be all that many out there.

In fact, I’d be surprised if the Greenwich edition – at least as currently spec’d – ever gets off the ground.

For one thing, there really doesn’t seem to be much cachet to joining a gas station, and cachet is a lot of what ultra-tony Greenwicah is all about. Oh, sure, this really isn’t a gas station. It’s a private club. Just one that’s dedicated to taking care of some retail and other “needs”, rather than to Cos Cob hobnobbing, golf, or racquet sports.  Maybe there are enough hedgies there who’ll be willing to spend big bucks, just because they can. But it just doesn’t seem Nantucket red, college-snob enough to attract that many members.

Seems moreTrump-ish to me than Greenwich. But what do I know. Just googled the primary results, and damned if Trump didn’t get 500 more votes than Kasich there. Maybe if they put in gilt toilets in the rest rooms, and ormolu pumps. It will be the best ever. They say.

Fill ‘er up.

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