Beyond Bonnyville Gas Prices: What Happened to Full-Service?
February 5, 2019

When you need to fill your vehicle with gas, there are two common considerations. First, there's urgency. Do you still have a quarter tank or are you running on fumes? How far is it to the nearest pump?

If you have enough gas to take you somewhere, you might next consider which station has the best prices. It might be worth driving a few blocks out of your way, especially if you can combine it with another errand, to fill your tank at a lower price point.

Those are important, but there's another consideration that makes us think beyond the Bonnyville gas prices: it's the full-service Bonnyville gas station. Gas prices matter, but so does your experience at the station.

In this day and age, some people might not even know what full-service means! Full-service gas stations used to be the norm; now, they're few and far between.

What is a Full-Service Gas Station?

Basically, there are three types of service you might find at a gas station. Any of them may include a convenience store where you can buy food, necessities like soap or a toothbrush, additional items that might help you prevent a separate trip to the grocery store (like olive oil, spaghetti noodles, or laundry detergent), and engine oil and other car supplies and accessories. They may also feature restaurants, car washes, or tire shops.

  • Self-Service: You pump your own gas and pay at the pump (or go inside to pay the attendant).
  • Half-Service: In this case, there may be an attendant who operates the pump for you, but you are still required to pay at the pump yourself or go inside to pay.
  • Full-Service: An attendant operates the pump and accepts your payment; he or she may perform other tasks for you, as well, such as checking the oil.

At a full-service station, the focus is on customer experience and satisfaction. You can take advantage of all the services offered by the attendant, or pick and choose the ones you need.

A Little Gas Station History

As the first cars took to the roads, all gas stations were full-service. It wasn't until 1949 when the first self-service station in Canada opened in Winnipeg. This was a business move: the owner, Bill Henderson, knew he'd be able to charge a little less for the gasoline since he didn't have to keep an attendant on the payroll. Besides, at that time, pumping your own gas was a novelty—it had never been done before. The idea took off. Over the years, competitors followed his example.

As gas prices continued to rise over the years, it made more and more sense for companies to switch to a self-service model in their efforts to earn their share of the market and turn the highest profit. Little by little, the full-service stations disappeared.

The Benefits of Full-Service Gas Stations

There are many!

  • New Jobs: Full-service stations need attendants, so they create new job opportunities in the community.
  • Cold Weather? No Problem: It's a hassle to bundle up just for a few minutes of pumping gas; however, it's worse to step out in the extreme temperatures without proper clothing. Full-service solves this issue for you: stay in your vehicle and let us do the work! That's helpful on especially hot, rainy, or windy days, too.
  • Assistance for Those in Need: The elderly or those suffering from an injury may have a hard time getting in and out of the car. This could be even more dangerous for them in icy or windy conditions. Their vehicle is taken care of, and they can sit comfortably inside.
  • No Gasoline Smell: Who hasn't left a self-serve gas pump with their hands smelling like gasoline? It's not always easy to wash away (particularly if a drop gets onto your clothes!) and it's not ideal to walk into work or your home smelling like gas.
  • Safer, More Pleasant Driving Experience: Do you really check your tires or wash your windshield as often as you should? Would you take the extra time to do that yourself during a fuel stop on a frigid winter day? Ask the attendant to help you, and you'll keep your car in better condition.
  • Save Time: Less hassle means you can move on to the next part of your day quickly and easily!

Furthermore, a full-service station provides an opportunity to connect with the people in your community. It's a small exchange, but we believe it's a powerful one in an increasingly isolated world, where we spend more time with technology than we do with each other. At a self-service station, drivers tend to keep their heads down: they pull up, fill the car, pay at the pump, and drive away without saying hello to anyone. At a full-service station, you can share a smile with a neighbour who lives and works alongside you, and it doesn't take any extra time or effort.

Or, if you feel like keeping to yourself today, that's totally fine! We all have days like that. At a full-service station you still have the option of self-service. If you'd prefer to pump your own gas, simply tell the attendant, and you can take care of it on your own.

Co-op: The Best of Both Worlds

A full-service Co-op Gas Bar offers the competitive fuel prices you might expect at a self-service station with all the benefits of full service mentioned above, and Lakeland Co-op is committed to providing it all. Co-ops are member-owned and dedicated to the communities they serve. When you shop with your Co-op, you're contributing to the vision of sustainability, integrity, respect, innovation, and excellence.

At your participating co-op Bonnyville gas station, refuelling is easy and effortless: just drive up and tell us what you need! Keep your car in top form all year long by letting us help with basic maintenance tasks, like checking tire pressure.

We invite you to come in and experience a full-service gas station the Co-op way! Contact us if you have any questions, and we'll look forward to seeing you soon.