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East Hill Esso – Wash the dog, wash the car, & support other local businesses!

East Hill Esso & Car Wash in Prince Albert

East Hill Esso & Car Wash is the last locally owned gas station for miles, and it's putting up a strong front through this challenging time. They're thanking the local community for their continued support.

Being stuck at home can be a little bit boring, lots of people are getting in their cars to take a short drive, just to break up the day. East Hill is reminding you that their gas station remains open for car washes, treats for the family, and even the pet pampering in their unique dog wash! It's a good break from your home, and they are practicing safe social distancing.

You can even skip a trip to the grocery store. Curtis and his family make sure their corner store is stocked with essential grocery items and locally made products to support other small businesses. I had the pleasure of talking to the Curtis Wailing about their family's business.



Tell us about your business and how it has been affected?

My wife and I own and run the East Hill Esso Car Wash, which was built in 1987. We saved up for ten years so that we could take out a loan to make our vision a reality, and update the existing longstanding Esso. We added new gas pumps, a six-bay state-of-the-art car wash, and more.

The project cost well over a million, and to our surprise, the City of Prince Albert raised our property taxes by close to 300%. We are finding it extremely difficult with any oil company backing, and we depend on our local community in the residential area to support us since we aren't close to any of the major highways. We are the last locally owned station, all others are owned by oil companies, co-ops, or native bands, we just don't have the means or financial position to spend money on radio ads or anything like that right now.

"It's not some automatic wash that you shove your dog in... it's a tub where you still get to wash your dog, but there is a TV and even celebrity voices built-in like Arnold Schwarzenegger saying 'hey your dog’s dirty, let’s get this dog clean.'"

Curtis Wailing

How do you differ from other gas stations?

We are a place where the local community comes to, even from across town. With our six-bay car wash, dog wash, and well-stocked corner store, we hope we can provide the people what they need! We try to support other local small businesses by carrying lots of locally produced products, either in or close to Prince Albert. We do homemade soups that an older couple makes from out of town. We have essential oils, bath balms, basically, anything that you could think of, we have it.

We ordered our dog wash from the Netherlands, and it was the first one in North America! "It's not some automatic wash that you shove your dog in," Curtis chuckles, "it's a tub where you still get to wash your dog, but there is a TV and even celebrity voices built-in like Arnold Schwarzenegger saying 'hey your dog’s dirty' and 'let’s get this dog clean.'

We thought it would be a fun way to get your dog clean, and we didn't want to have a stainless steel tub and a coin box, we wanted it to be more of an experience!

How are you providing a safe space for people?

Along with the necessary precautions such as sanitization and social distancing, we are giving people a safe space to get out of the house on a little adventure. Our car wash bays were installed with 12-foot curtains and automatic doors so there is a lot of privacy and distancing. It is kind of nice way to give people that are bored something to do in a safe environment, whether that is doing some Spring cleaning with their vehicles, getting the dog clean, or getting some grocery items.

What positives have you seen despite the challenges of the current situation?

All of this has given people the chance - ourselves included with two small kids, to slow down and enjoy some family time. Sometimes it is hard to see the positives, especially when it is directly affecting businesses like ours, but people seem to be a lot more understanding and patient than they have ever been before. With limited staff right now, we thank everyone for being understanding of our current work environment.

We have such a great team working with us, we want to thank them for all their hard work and hope to be full staff again soon.

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