Pruitt’s Automotive in St. Matthews to close after 63 years

On Friday the local landmark will close its doors and second-generation owner Rocky Pruitt will retire.
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 4:07 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 3, 2023 at 6:57 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The family-owned Pruitt’s Automotive on Lexington Road in St. Matthews has offered full-service gas pumps for 63 years.

But on Friday the local landmark will close its doors and second-generation owner Rocky Pruitt will retire.

“A lot of angst and a lot of fret goes into a decision like this,” Pruitt said Tuesday. “And, did I make the right decision? Come see me in a year, I’ll let you know.” Pruitt said his mother first carried him through the doors of his father’s business when he was just six weeks old.

His dad put him to work at age five. He was pumping gas at 13. Pruitt said his business acumen was learned at the dining room table.

“People are coming in here generally because they need something,” Pruitt said. “They have a problem that they want to help fix it. Even if the problem is as simple as an empty fuel tank. So, the better you can make that for them, the better the experience becomes for them, the more apt they are to come back.”

Pruitt’s customer service became legendary.

It is one of the last places to offer full-service gas pumps.

Just like the old days, employees come out to greet customers, pump gas, and wash windows.

Pruitt valued the personal relationships he has with his customers.

He resisted the idea of turning the business into a convenience store with self-serve pumps.

“The prospect of selling lottery tickets and beer and cigarettes just held no interest for me at all,” Pruitt said. “So, it’s not something I wanted to do with my life. This is much more rewarding. When you help people with problems, it’s much more rewarding.” Now at 63, Pruitt is selling the family business and retiring after the doors close on Friday.

He plans to spend as much time as he can thanking customers who come by for one last fill-up.

“It is not without a small amount of trepidation that we move forward,” Pruitt said. “But, it’s a tough decision to make. And if you’re not going to make tough decisions, you should never be in business for yourself.”