Sam’s Mobil Self-Serve Closes Soon

A couple of years ago, a big snowstorm closed local roads.

Concerned that Samer “Sam” Hiba — owner of the Mobil Self-Serve next to Barnes & Noble — might not make it home to Trumbull, a nearby customer called and invited him to sleep at her house.

Not many gas station owners develop those kinds of bonds with their customers.

As of Thursday, there will be one less in Westport.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, September 18) is the last day for Sam’s station.

He explains:

The gas company informed me that they decided to withdraw from this location only after carefully analyzing the numbers and determining that, unfortunately, the station’s projected long term revenues are not sufficient to justify investing the additional resources necessary to do the mandatory upgrade to the tanks, along with the corresponding improvements to the canopy, pumps and store.

Sam will shut off the pumps at 10 p.m., then spend Wednesday and Thursday cleaning out the station he loves.

He is devastated. So are his many customers — many of whom prefer the word “friend.”

Sam Hiba, in his Mobil Self-Serve gas station.

From the day Sam bought the business 5 years ago, his life has been intertwined with the men and women who come in for gas, coffee, snacks and conversation.

He has brightened their days. They’ve supported his major community work: caring for Syrian refugees.

Sam left his native country 25 years ago. He’s now a proud American citizen — as are his 5 children, all of whom were born here. But he’s never forgotten that war-torn nation.

His long list of friends include Westport residents, local businesses, even St. Luke Church. Sister Maureen and the entire staff has been particularly strong supporters of Sam’s Syrian relief efforts.

“From the first day, I loved my customers,” Sam says. “They are part of my family now. They know about my life, and I know about theirs. We chat all the time. I will miss them, big time.”

As customers hear that Sam’s Mobil Self-Serve is closing, they’re shattered. Today and tomorrow they’ll fill his small but well-stocked mini-mart, and say thanks.

“I see their tears and concern for me,” Sam says. “That’s very special.”

He promises to keep in touch with his customers — er, friends. He knows they’ll do the same.

Yet life on that stretch of the Post Road will never be quite the same.

 

29 responses to “Sam’s Mobil Self-Serve Closes Soon

  1. Samer is a dear friend of mine. I am heartsick over this. What a unfortunate decision for all of us!

    Not only is losing our gas station going to have a big negative impact on our little part of the world but losing Samer makes it all oh so much worse! Samer is a huge part of our community. He knows most of his customers by name. His friendly smile and “good morning” as you walk through his station door is warm and genuine. He cares about us and we care about him.

    Samer is a dear friend. And I will so miss seeing him every day behind the counter at our local gas station.

    I wish Samer and his family the very best!

    John F Suggs

  2. God Bless you Sam! I knew lots of people like Sam when I moved to Westport in ‘58. Hard working first generation AMERICANS! A pity that great people get plowed under by Big Business. There’s a movie in this story!

  3. Thanks Dan for posting. This makes me sad on so many levels. Samer brought a real sense of “neighborhood” to our community. Filling my car with gas was actually something I looked forward to. I always knew he was there during all weather conditions and would help us out, no matter what. This is a big loss for us–I wish Samer and his family all the best. We are here for him too.

  4. Unfortunate in the end its all dollars. The location will be available. It is possible that a new gas company/investor tenant would be willing to take it over and revive Sam and his customer base. There is always a new opportunity around the corner. Interesting that this station is in a Highway Service District which is the only district zoned for gas stations. Many years ago with a gas station on every corner the P & Z commission created this relatively short area of the Post Road for auto service. Consequently this is the only gas station in Westport which is conforming under current zoning. Every other gas station in Westport is non-conforming.
    All of this, of course, shows that in the end the market place is stronger than any Zoning Regulations

  5. Sam- I am sorry to hear this. My grandfather came here from Italy in the early 1900’s for the same reasons you left your native Syria- to make a better life for your family and the generations to come.
    It is sad that we continue to lose small family businesses throughout our town and state. Even the “Big Boy’s” like Exxon Mobile are squeezing their small business partners.
    Dan- again thank you posting this piece. Sam wishing you and your family luck and a forward brighter future. Your efforts to help those from your native land speaks volumes of your character.

  6. I know little about the gas business, but I understand that gas is a loss leader for the “mini mart.” Is it possible to close the gas station and continue as a store. Sure seems like Sam has built a loyal following as “Sam,” not as a gas maven.

  7. Wow, what a loss for the community. I had no idea. Sam ran a great station and was basically the reason I always went there. Whether it’s hardware, shoe repair or a super friendly gas station, we seem to be losing a lot of places that matter. Sam, I wish you the very best.

  8. Big Ouch!!! This is our Neighborhood Gas Station, and Sam (tho i’ve never know his name), is one of The Good Guys. Always smiling & positive, it WAS a pleasure to fill the tank and chat, or even just wave. There was always a warm reply… We will miss this hard working, dedicated man, and hope KARMA plays her hand!
    Best & Warmest Wishes for the Future to You & Your Family!
    Thank You Dan for shining the light on a Friend.
    (MAKTOUB = It Is Written)

  9. Sam is such a kind and helpful man. I will miss stopping at his station . I would use up gas to go to wherever he goes next.(if he is still
    willing to deal with big gas companies)

  10. One of the many downsides of EV cars.

  11. Another loss to our community…we wish you well, Sam. Godspeed.

  12. What a terrible loss for our town. Sam and his staff (Khalid & Hamzzah) were wonderful local merchants who became our friends. My sons and I always looked forward to going to the station and getting gas for the week, grabbing a coffee, or picking up Gatorade or gum for a ballgame many times during the week. Sam cared for us and we sure cared for Sam and his family. Sam, wherever you end up, there will be a community out there who will surely benefit from all that you offered us. Thank you.

  13. So sorry to see this neighborhood institution go!! Sam and all of his staff were always so friendly and helpful, you will be missed!!

  14. I’m very upset about the closing tomorrow of the Westport Mart Mobil station at 1060 Post Road in Westport CT. This station has been an invaluable member of the community for many years and deserves to remain open and be renovated!

  15. Losing a gas station with such wonderful service is a true loss for the community. I wish Sam well in all his future endeavors.

  16. Sam, you are a good man and you will be missed. Your kind words and great service contribute so much to our community. I wish you the best, Adrián

  17. Chip Stephens SHS '73

    This was the first self-serve gas station in Westport and I believe one of the first in Connecticut. Another piece of history to hang your hat on. The gents that have run the station over the recent years have been very nice and kept a clean and friendly business, I hope they are seeking another location here in town.

  18. This is truly a loss for the community. I wish only the best for Sam going forward!

  19. Bill Boyd... Staples 66

    Wonderful people who will be missed!
    All the best in your future!

  20. I just filled up there this morning, having no knowledge of the news.

    As a practical matter, having been “dropped” by Exxon Mobil, is Sam free to seek an affiliation with a different fuel provider?

    Good luck to you, Mr Hiba!

  21. What a kind man, and a huge loss for Westport’s community. If there are any service stations looking for a fantastic human with a huge, loyal following, you should hire Sam right away!

  22. I am very surprised by this especially with the mass amount of condo building they are doing in the area that will all need gas? Did they not take that into account for projected sales.

  23. This is so sad to hear and a huge loss for our town and all those that frequented there!! Sam your friendly smile, good nature and readiness to help will certainly be missed!! I wish all the best to you and your family!!

  24. I do not know “Sam” and I’m sure he’s a great guy, but that gas station was unattractive even when Mobil corporate put it up in the 70’s — and it has not aged well since. Also, there is scarcely any room inside to call it a “convenience” store in any sense of the imagination. Post Rd. East is not exactly devoid of gas stations; there are at least 4 others within about 1 mile in either direction. I really do love Westport’s sense of nostalgia for everything “old.” (hey, it was the first place I went to gas up my first car…$5 for a fill-up), but this facility is way past its sell-by date and I hope something more attractive goes upin its place.

  25. This is so sad. I always went out of my way to patronize Sam’s station because I felt like I was supporting a real person, rather than an impersonal international corporation. He told me last week that today would be his last day. So I made a point of visiting the station today, even though I didn’t need much gasoline. It was so sad to watch his soft drink inventory being loaded onto a monster truck to be taken to who knows where. When I asked him how we can find out where he goes next, he said: “Keep reading Dan Woog. Dan promised to report on where I am next.” So, Dan, we are counting on you to keep us in touch with Sam.

  26. Sam, I’m so sorry to hear the station is closing. I have enjoyed our conversations every time I came in to fill it up. I will miss you smiling face and the $1 coffee. Continued god luck with the immigrants from the middle east, You are doing God’s work.

    If you are able to open a new station in Westport I hope you will let 06880 and Westportnow know. You will be missed.

    .

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