LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- At least five Swifty's gas stations in Louisville abruptly closed on Wednesday, with no word from the corporation of its plans at the properties.
Workers painted over or removed "Swifty" signage and removed fuel hoses and nozzles from the pumps at the affected locations as puzzled drivers pulled in and then out of the station lots.
"I was getting gas and cigarettes and noticed there was no price on gas and kind of sat there for a second waiting to see if they were closed," Nikki McGowan said.
"It's sad to see it go," Rick Lykins said. "It's been here since I was a kid. I remember coming here with my parents when I was a kid."
Calls to Swifty's corporate offices in Seymour, Ind. had not been returned as of late Wednesday afternoon.
Workers not authorized to talk to the media told WHAS11 that the company informed them Wednesday morning it is closing a number of its stations in Louisville that were not able to compete with other gas stations that offer one stop shopping.
"People that have just one thing such as fuel, they're really not fitting the consumer demand for what people need in convenience to keep themselves going throughout the day," John A. Zikias, an industry expert with knowledge of the Louisville market, said.
"They're looking for places where they can stop and they can get something to eat, something to drink, something they might need at home," Zikias said. "And do all that at one time versus having to stop at one place to get fuel and one place to get something to drink and one place to get something to eat."
Swifty's is among few service stations which will pump gasoline for drivers.
"I've come to Swifty's for years because they would pump the gas for me," Teresa Reed said. "Not that I don't know how, but if I spill it I don't want to smell like gasoline where I'm going."
Zikias said Swifty's business model relied on fuel and cigarette sales, both squeezed by current economic factors, tight gasoline profit margins and fewer people smoking.
While surveys show most consumers believe retailers profit more than fifty cents per gallon of gas, Zikias said it is actually closer to ten or fifteen cents. Plus, credit card fees often carve much out of that slim profit margin, he explained.
"You can end up actually just making pennies on the gallon not on the dollar," Zikias continued. "And to be a sustainable business long term, to maintain your operation and your facility, it's very, very hard to do on two or three cents a gallon."
Swifty service stations remained open Wednesday in other local locations, including on
Brownsboro Road U.S. 42, in Mt. Washington and throughout Southern Indiana.
Yet, some Louisville neighborhoods are discovering an end to an era.
"I'm old enough to remember when there were two attendants and they came and they washed your windshield and checked your tires," Reed said, "and it's even hard to get someone to check your tires now."