Greenho's Sunoco, 550 N. Main St., closed at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The full-service gas station — one of the last of its kind — had been owned by the Greenho family since 1952.
NORTH CANTON Dan and Kristine Greenho were busy Wednesday packing up more than six decades of memories.
Greenho's Sunoco, 550 N. Main St., closed at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The full-service gas station — one of the last of its kind in the area — had been owned by the Greenho family since 1952.
"It's emotional," Dan Greenho said. "I haven't been telling my regular customers because I didn't want to go through that ... It's tough."
Herbert Greenho, Dan's grandfather, bought the station on Sept. 11, 1952. Bruce Greenho, Dan's father, took over after Herbert's death in 1980. Dan Greenho, 60, began working at the station (unpaid) in the fourth or fifth grade. He took over the business shortly before Bruce's death in 2008.
The Greenhos have two adult sons. Neither wanted to take on the business.
"I didn't really push them into it," Dan Greenho said. "I wanted to make sure they did their own thing."
The station dates back further than the Greenhos. It was built sometime in the late 1930s. The Greenhos believe it was one of the first Sunoco stations in the country.
Kristine Greenho pulled photographs, which used to line the walls of the station, out of a recently packed box. They showed the station through the decades — the original station in 1942, one from 1958, a new station built in 1962, a 1969 photo with Herbert Greenho, a similar shot in 1995.
The Greenhos sold the station to G.S. Sheera Co. of Seville. The family believes it will remain a gas station.
Greenho's has been a full-service station since its inception. Dan Greenho would pump gas and check the oil, fill tires and make small repairs.
They never considered another option.
"Think about the person who's disabled," Kristine Greenho said. "Where do they go?"
The station drew a group of regulars. When other full-service stations closed, those customers would seek out Greenho's, Kristine Greenho said, adding that customers sometimes came from as far as Massillon or Uniontown.
But keeping a gas station going, especially a small one, is expensive, Dan Greenho said.
"I didn't really run this station to make money," he said.
"I like dealing with the public. Serving the community is basically my motto... Money was never a driving force. I was more of a team player."
North Canton has changed in 65 years. When the Hoover Co. left in 2008, the number of gallons sold at the station was cut in half over night, he said.
New gas stations that double as convenience stores also hurt business. Those stations could drop the price of gas knowing they would make up the difference in store sales, but small stations don't have that option, he said.
Greenho's also resisted selling tobacco or alcohol products. Those items have a high profit for stations.
"I could have made more money, but I didn't think it was right to sell that stuff near the high school kids," Greenho said referencing nearby Hoover High.
On Wednesday, Greenho hugged regulars goodbye after filling their tanks. A steady stream of friends stopped by, some offering to buy lunch and others carrying a plate of warm brownies.
"It's a change that you hoped would never happen," said Craig James, who lives next door to the station and said he hadn't bought gas anywhere else in 17 years.
"It's the end of an era," Denise James added. "I just hope we have good neighbors."
More than a gas station, Greenho's was a gathering place.
Friends would come by each morning to talk and hang out. Kristine Greenho affectionately called it the beauty parlor.
"You can find out everything that's going on in town here," she laughed.
Jeff Hite, Hoover High's baseball coach and childhood friend of the family, is one of those regulars. He was there Wednesday helping to pack and say goodbye.
"It's going to be difficult driving by here. Not seeing the Greenho's sign," he said, adding that he's happy for the family. "But its also sad that come tomorrow morning, I'm not going to be coming here."
Many of Greenho's regular customers became more like friends.
"I've seen people get married, have kids. Their kids come in. People pass away. I don't read (the newspaper) anymore because every time I read the obituaries, I see one of my customers... It's too emotional," he said.
The sale only became final this week. And the Greenhos had a short time to close up. Dan Greenho knows he won't have a chance to say goodbye to everyone.
I want people to know "how much I appreciate my regular customers," he said. "I appreciate their loyalty; their business."
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