The instantly recognisable roof top of Inner Space Stations grabs attention far and wide

Our mystery motorist on a mission at the Inner Space Stations, Hull Road, York, which is taking fuel retailing to a different dimension.

Time of visit 3.30pm on Saturday 27 January 2024

Open all hours: 24-hour site



The Dr Who Tardis sets the scene at the store’s entrance

Kerb appeal

With a Tardis at its entrance and Daleks and a Cyberman on its roof, Inner Space Stations certainly looks out of this world. However, a mystery shop of the 1,900 sq ft store, and its extensive site, shows that this York business has a very compelling, and down to earth offering.

On Trip Advisor one family advises that, despite appearances, this is not a tourist attraction. It might confuse some passing motorists, but pester power among younger Dr Who fans in the family might have some effect in luring others to use it.

It was almost as if owner Graham Kennedy had some Time Lord power predicting our arrival on a dank Saturday afternoon at the end of January. He was at the 24-hour site during our visit, introducing himself and asking if he could help his two very inquisitive, mysterious customers, spending a bit more time than necessary pacing the aisles and photographing features on the extensive forecourt.


Transformers guard the rollover car wash

Pump action

The site was bustling with cars lined up to use the six islands of Shell fuel pumps, and four out of five of its jet wash bays were being used. There was a queue for its rollover car wash, themed ‘The Amazing Transformer’, complete either side with two Transformer characters from the children’s fantasy movies, their eyes menacingly lit up.

There is vacuuming and air and a cash machine. A dog wash added another element of novelty. It wasn’t being used while we were there, but one of the friendly members of staff told me that it has been popular since being installed over a year ago.

Tucked behind the dog wash, complete with its K9 image next to that of the owner’s family’s real dogs, was a yard full of around 40 self-storage lockers – ensuring that every part of the property was earning its keep.


Staff said the dog wash was popular, but it was unused during our visit


Self-storage lockers are tucked away at the back of the forecourt

Store style

All of the shelves in the Nisa Local store were full and impeccably faced up, and the interior was well laid out, well kept and exciting to shop.

You would imagine that being close to York’s university that the site would have a cult following from students, attracted by its strong range of healthy and vegan, as well as indulgent snacks, bakery and food to go, which includes Stone Willy’s Kitchen of wraps, pizza slices, wedges and breakfast rolls, Rollover, Bake & Bite pastries, Skwishee and two Costa Express machines.


A medley of food to go beside the cash desk


Shelves were impeccably full and faced up

And for those not wanting to leave their student accommodation the site operates Deliveroo, Just Eat and Hungry Panda delivery apps.

The 24-hour shop, open seven days a week, has a full convenience range suitable for a meal for tonight, right down to foodie ingredients like Very Lazy chopped ginger, garlic, and chilll, and there were fresh lemons in a basket next to cordials and mixers, and a strong fresh offer from the Co-op brand.


A nice touch: fresh lemons in a hanging basket next to cordials and mixers


Attention grabbing £4 meal deal at the entrance to the store

Sections were thoughtfully labelled, including a £4 meal deal in a fridge at the front of the store, and a Dinner for Tonight… and impressive alcohol section headed Enjoy…Life is too short, complete with a Fine Wines highlighted section.


Fine Wines section featured bottles retailing at over £11 on-shelf

There is the National Lottery, flowers and cards, and a vast row of confectionery leading to the tills.

The non-food sections are compact but had everything you could need covering baby, toiletries right down to electric toothbrush heads, car accessories, home baking and pet treats - ideal to reward Fido after his dog wash.


Something to treat dogs with after their wash


The site has fresh produce galore

On a mission

We had stopped off on a journey to Scotland, four hours into our journey and tired. We perked ourselves up with a Costa and a cake and a nip to the toilet. But if we were more virtuous there was an array of healthier snacks and fresh fruit which would have kept us going.

At your convenience

If I were looking to find fault I would question having to ask for a key to use the single use toilet, which was practical, clean but unremarkable. We were in a hurry and asking for a key, even if it is accompanied with a Darth Vader keyring, was irritating.

Thumbs up

The shop had a buzzy, jolly vibe, helped along by Phil Collins singing You Can’t Hurry Love, and the aisles being wide enough that customers had the space to peruse unhindered.

Everywhere I looked brought a smile to my face from branding above the soft drinks chiller saying ‘Last Shop Before Mars’, to the cash desk area branded ‘Mission Control’, and the unusual light fittings reminiscent of space ships. It was clear that the owner loves his job and engaging with customers.


Mission Control staff were friendly and efficient

The range was unbeatable for a forecourt, and one which genuinely you could buy your week’s worth of groceries from.


A space theme continues throughout

Thumbs down for

It’s really hard to criticise this store. Being the pedants we are, a sign at the entrance said the dog wash has landed, and it has actually been there a while. And I suppose one of its biggest draws, its unrelenting space theme, might be lost on some. But on a grey, damp day it brought me joy.


Giving prominence to the dog wash