70 years is a long time

Published 8:58 pm Friday, April 13, 2012

Not many businesses survive 70 years. Even fewer make it to the third generation.

The facts are pretty simple.

Doing business in a small town is hard.

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Those who can do it are building a valuable commodity that is, generally, fairly easy to sell when you’re ready to spend more time on the beach than in the office.

That’s what makes the Parr family’s achievement so unusually special.

It’s not just a Chevron station in small town Alabama. It’s a family business.

It’s jobs in a city that doesn’t have a ton of them.

For many of its customers, it’s spending $30, $40, $50 or more on a tank of gas and at least knowing your money is staying here.

For others, it’s a Coke after a tee ball game, the place to grab slice of pizza at 2 a.m. or a cup of coffee at 5 a.m. on your way to work.

It’s a gathering place. It’s a gas station, too, but it’s more of a community center that happens to carry fuel.

Seventy years is a long time. Seventy years ago, in 1942, the average cost of a new car was $1,100. That’s now a few months of car payments.

A new home in the early 40s cost about $7,000. That’s still less than a new car costs today.

The stock market ended 1942 at 119 points. Yesterday, the Dow Jones fell more points than that (136.99) to settle at 12,849.59.

Perhaps most fittingly in this trek down memory lane is the price of gas. In 1942 you could get a gallon for 19 cents.

Locally, yesterday, the average price was around $3.80.

Like I said, 70 years is a long time.

Weathering all those changes, the challenges they bring and the circumstances they create is and was challenging. It will continue to be. The changes over the past 70 years won’t stop for the next 70 years. They will be different, but they will change just the same.

I’m thankful to call the Parrs friends and appreciative of the way they lead their business and the role they play in leading their community.

Please join me in congratulating them on their milestone.