Back in the 1930s when gasoline only cost about $0.15 a gallon, you would pull into the station and an eager man dressed in coveralls who heard the bell upon your arrival, would happily come out to pump your gas, wash your windshield and check your oil. These stations were affectionately known as mom-and-pop service stations. Aside from getting full service from these stations, many also carried soda and candy, had a full-time mechanic, and typically were owned and operated by the same person.
During the 1950s/1960s the business model began to change. There was no longer a need for mechanics due to vehicle improvements. Large petroleum corporations began to buy up or open larger truck stops. Perhaps most importantly the interstate highway system was beginning to grow exponentially.
Today, truck stops otherwise known as travel centers, have grown to accommodate our need for immediate access to a variety of items. Now catering to the millions of truck drivers and personal vehicles that drive the interstates, these travel centers have grown to include showers, overnight parking, movie theaters and restaurants.
Long gone are the days of brand and neighborhood loyalties. Everyone is searching for the best price or highest quality items that they require without the inconvenience of going out of route. Automation and increased autonomy will influence the future requirements for truck stops. Just look around and see how many electric charging stations pop up in the near future.