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Apr
24
2024
Business

In recent weeks, Nipper’s Corner gas station and convenience store has undergone a noticeable transformation: Larger shelves have been erected and are now populated by a number of new products. Next month, the gas pumps will be improved, the store’s exterior will be remolded and much more. All this work has been carried out by new owner Mit Patel. (Photo by Reilly Dixon)

Nipper’s Corner under new ownership

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By Truth Garrett

In an effort to revitalize a local landmark, Mit Patel and his family have taken over the reins of longtime Xenia Avenue gas station Nipper’s Corner.

The Patels, hailing from Waynesville and already seasoned in the gas station business, told the News this week that they bring with them a commitment to community and a vision to transform Nipper’s Corner into a hub — and market — that resonates with the unique spirit of Yellow Springs.

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For Patel, a second-generation Indian-American, the journey to Yellow Springs is not just about business, but about embracing the spirit of a tight-knit community.

“I studied here locally, in Centerville; I went to Wright State, and I dropped out at four years of college to help out Dad with his family business. We love our small community,” Patel said.

Patel recalled the inspiration behind acquiring Nipper’s Corner, citing the bustling foot traffic and the untapped potential of the location. He and his family would often drive past en route to Young’s Dairy.

The decision to purchase Nipper’s Corner was not a hasty one. Patel inquired more than once, but the owners were not ready to sell. After persistent inquiries about a potential purchase, the Patels finally had their opportunity in November 2023. The previous owners, local residents Dennis and Jane Nipper, sought individuals who would run it as a family operation rather than succumbing to corporate interests. Having successfully operated another gas station in Waynesville, the Patels’ vision aligned with the desires of the outgoing owners.

“[The Nippers] came over to my store in Waynesville, and they liked it,” Patel said. “They liked how we brought that place from bankruptcy, and we turned that place around. So, they were really happy.”

Patel acknowledged the current state of the business, and addressed challenges arising from an initially sparse inventory at Nipper’s. He outlined extensive plans for the business, including new pumps, a revamped parking lot, a rebranded image under BP, and an overhaul of the convenience store’s exterior.

“We’re going to completely gut everything,” Patel said, adding that he has already begun reorganizing the store. He also has plans to put up new, digital gas price signs outside.

The convenience store’s limited square footage means there’s not much space to expand, but customers can look forward to new doors and shelving, as well as an expanded product selection, Patel said.

“Gas stations are a niche market, so we would like to get particular items the community likes,” Patel said. “For example, if … you have to go five or 10 miles out of your way to get that one item, I would love to have your business and say, ‘We will carry that just for you.’ So that separates us from Speedway and other stores.”

Patel emphasized that, while changes are underway, the essence of a family-owned business will remain intact.

“Even though we are changing the signage to BP, it will still be a family operation — I’ll be there personally,” he said. “We will still have [current employees] Brittany and Joe helping me out, but for day-to-day operations, I’ll be there.”

The village can also look forward to new hours at the convenience store: Starting in March, hours will be 6 a.m.–11 p.m. Sunday–Thursday; and 6 a.m.–midnight Friday and Saturday.

Being a small business owner, Patel said he loves getting to know his customers by their first names and knowing their routines. The transition hasn’t been without its challenges, but Patel said he finds solace in the warm reception from Yellow Springs residents — a reception he said he didn’t initially have in Waynesville.

“Every single customer has so far welcomed me to town, saying they are glad to see new faces and wish me the best of luck,” Patel said. “I don’t get that response in Waynesville, because it has a different type of people. I’m not saying they’re racist, but they’re hard. They’re not as welcoming as Yellow Springs.”

Patel added: “It took us almost two years to blend in [to Waynesville]. Yellow Springs is more open to diversifying. The village doesn’t mind seeing different skin tones. … Hopefully, we will continue getting support from locals.”

Looking ahead, Patel plans to engage with the community through social media platforms, offering updates and promotions to foster a sense of connection. While grand reopening events are on the horizon, Patel’s primary focus remains on delivering quality service and competitive pricing to his patrons.

As Nipper’s Corner embarks on this new chapter, Patel extended his gratitude to the residents and customers for their support.

“Thank you, everyone, from the bottom of our hearts, for allowing us to be a part of the town,” he said. “There were a lot of people who wanted that corner. I guess we were just lucky that we had an opportunity to buy the store.”

Patel also told the News the gas station’s name is staying the same — with one small addition.

“It’s going to be Nipper’s Corner Market,” he said.

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One Response to “Nipper’s Corner under new ownership”

  1. Hank Chapin says:

    When I moved from Kentucky, where I was not welcome, to Yellow Springs about 1964, I immediately felt welcome. Dr. Hardman asked me to help coach soccer right away. Mr. Smith, the Fifth Grade teacher came over to our house because Julia, my daughter, felt it was completely appropriate, which it was. Georganne? My other daughter, went from feeling like an outcast in Kentucky to finding a central role in the high school. The town is unique, no doubt about it. My word to Mr. Patel might be to carry the Sunday New York Times. People might go out of their way for that. Also Heath candy bars.

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