Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Nirmal Singh of S&K Mini Mart stands by the big Sinclair Gas Dinosaur displayed infront of the gas station/mini mart on Avenue 12 in the Madera Ranchos.
A big green dinosaur has invaded the Madera Ranchos. The S & K Market, 37275 Avenue 12, has recently made the transition from independent mini-mart and gas station to a branded Sinclair Oil station.
The owner, Happy Bansal, who lives in the Ranchos, bought the business in 1997. In the last 20-plus years, he has acquired the adjacent property and has settled into the community.
The Sinclair brand is represented by the large fiberglass Dino (Pronounced DY-NO) that faces Avenue 12 and is near the middle of the Ranchos business corridor.
“I find I am serving the fourth generation of customers,” said Bansal. “The customers bring in their kids, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren to the store.”
His store sells the usual fare found in most convenience stores and a huge selection of beer, wine and hard liquor as well.
The Sinclair Oil Company is an American success story originally based in Wyoming and spread throughout the country, as the company’s history states.
“Its signature-advertising icon made its first appearance at an exhibit at the 1933 Chicago World’s fair. That original campaign included a dozen different dinosaur (types) but it was the gentle giant, the Apatosaurus (aka brontosaurus), that captured the hearts of Americans,” according to the company website.
Since that, time replicas of the beloved creature have been installed in Sinclair gas stations all across the country. Tourists and photographers have taken untold pictures of subjects posing with Dino.
In 1963 a balloon Dino measuring 72 feet long, 24 feet wide and 36 feet tall debuted at the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, a spot he occupied until 1976. In 2016, after a 40-year absence, the Sinclair Dino came back for the parade, celebrating the company’s centennial anniversary.
Now Ranchos residents can enjoy having their pictures taken with the legendary creature.