Service is the name of the game at new Murphy’s gas station

Service is the name of the game at new Murphy’s gas station

Ken Murphy is ready to serve customers at his new gas station on Social Street. (Breeze photo by Sandy Seoane)

WOONSOCKET – Ken Murphy, owner of the new Murphy’s gas station on Social Street, has worked in the gasoline business for most of his life.

Murphy’s father, Donald Murphy, worked for Atlantic Richfield Company, better known as ARCO, before branching out on his own in 1964. Murphy says he began working at the family business as a child.

“I enjoyed it,” he said. “It was a good business. My father did very well.”

Ken was the first of Donald’s three sons to get involved in the company as an adult, and the one who eventually renamed the chain, creating the “Murphy’s” brand. His brothers also joined the family business, and at one point the Murphy family owned 11 stations throughout the area. Many stations have since been sold or leased out, though the family still own stations in Coventry and Warwick.

The new location at 1023 Social St. was a gas station previously, but had been vacant for the past 18 months before Murphy opened up in September. And it’s one of few stations locally offering full service.

“You can get gas anywhere, so I wanted to do something different,” Murphy said. “That’s my whole thing, service. That personal touch is our strong point.”

The owner points out that these days, most gas stations are owned by corporations.

“The independent locally-owned guy is gone,” he said. “I think what makes us different is there’s a person behind the brand. Everything in the world today is so unpersonalized.”

The North Smithfield resident notes that gas prices fluctuate at every turn of the market because most are owned by investment firms. Last Friday, his station was selling regular unleaded for $2.51 a gallon, midgrade for $2.89 and premium for $3.09, competitive prices at or below self service when compared to the state average.

“We are the cheapest gas in Woonsocket right now and we provide service,” he said.

The customer-driven attitude, he says, extends beyond the pump.

“I go out of my way helping people,” Murphy said, noting he’ll check tire pressure and recently unloaded a propane tank for an older customer, delivering the new, full tank to the trunk of his car.

“The guy never even got out of the car,” he said.

Customers often stay inside their vehicles, paying with cash or credit right out the window.

The business also serves as a UPS access point, where customers can send or receive packages, a Rhode Island Lottery agent, and a U-Haul dealer with trucks on site. The location is also a Western Union center and features a small snack shop with drinks and items such as car products, propane and fire wood.

Murphy’s is open Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.