For most of my life, this building was a Gulf Station and was our default family choice for gas and light service.
After the place closed as a Gulf, it seemed to go through several phases that I am now hazy on. In particular, I think there was a period after it was a full service station and before Circle K when it was still a gas-only station, but without service. During this period, the service bays were closed, but the car-wash bay was still in operation, and you could get a code to with each fill-up to go through the wash.
Circle K took over the place in sort of a half-hearted way. They never really committed to making the place a "modern" convenience store, and the service and wash bays remained walled off, but unconverted, forcing the convenience operation into a really small cramped space. In particular, they never put in interior bathrooms as all stores now do, and the old Gulf restrooms on the Trenholm Road side of the station remained the only ones (though they were never ADA-ed).
Though the place remained my default gas station, there were some inconvenient touches to that aspect as well. First they gradually closed off the Trenholm Road door. At first sometimes you would go and it would be open and sometimes it would be locked, then finally it was always locked. Second, they took the pump locks off the pump handles. That meant you had to hold the pump handle throughout the whole fueling operation. I think some places feel this is a safety issue, but I say that's bunk. Thirdly, from time to time, they seemed to have the slowest pumps in SC. On those days, I think if I had not pre-paid, I would have just driven off rather than wait for the gentle trickle to creep up to $20. (Of course nothing *creeps* to $20 nowdays..)
Initially when the place was a Union 76, even though the store itself was technically a Circle K, they signage played up the 76 affiliation, and the Circle K branding was almost invisible. Sometime last fall, they completely, and messily, disaffiliated from Union 76, knocking out the logo panel on their street sign, and pasting Circle K branding on the pumps (take off the pumps now that the CK is closed).
(Hat tip to commenter Matt)
UPDATE 23 May 2011 -- various pictures as below:
On 17 May, it appeared that the underground tanks were being pumped dry:
On 18 May, they started digging up the underground tanks. Hopefully all those holes in the tanks were made during the excavation:
By 21 May, the tanks had been carted off:
By 22 May, the hole has been partly filled in, the pumps are off in the corner, and the next step is unclear. Knock the building down? Start an interior refit?
UPDATE 16 June 2011 -- Hmm. New sign, and it appears that the building is slated to be torn down. A ground lease is a type of lease where the tennant gets to build on the land during the lease period, and of course build-to-suit means a new building as well. Looking at the supports for the canopy on the Trenholm Road side, it appears that they have already decided that backing into things doesn't matter anymore..
UPDATE 18 July 2011 -- Well, demolition has started. Already the canopies have been knocked down. They haven't torn into the building itself as far as the walls go, but it sure doesn't look like it's long for the world:
UPDATE 19 July 2011 -- Well the end has come! Interestingly, the bathrooms were the last piece left standing. I shot some video of them knocking down part of the bathroom wall, but it didn't come out:
UPDATE 19 July 2011: The whole building is down now. Also added first pic of Circle K logo at top:
UPDATE 20 July 2011: Add 18 July 2011 photoset below.
UPDATE 21 July 2011: Today they knocked down the street sign and the trailer is gone. (No pix yet). Also I added the 19 July photoset below.
UPDATE 23 September 2011 -- Well, the place is apparently to be a Circle K again according to the new sign in the lot. And in the meantime, the old chargecard sign hangs on..
UPDATE 5 May 2012 -- It appears that new construction has finally started, or at least excavation:
UPDATE 21 May 2012 -- Landscaping and excavation continue and now they have boarded out the foundations for part of the new construction. Apparently they will be building in what was green space in the former Bell's Drive-In as well as the old Gulf/Circle K lot. At least my memory is that Gulf & Bell's sort of shared a parking lot, but that Bell's itself sat in this little strip between the gas station and the drugstore which never had a building after Bell's was torn down:
UPDATE 2 June 2012 -- The new underground tanks are going in:
UPDATE 6 June 2012 -- Looks like it's going to be a fairly small building:
UPDATE 17 August 2012 -- The new building is almost ready to open. In fact, I saw a car pull up to the "Redbox" and apparently rent a movie:
UPDATE 12 September 2012 -- The construction is finished, and the new store is open. I was conflicted as to whether I should mark the post as "open again" given that it is a completely new building, but in the end I did. If it ever closes again though, it will get a separate closing..