Main Street Kansas

Main Street Kansas: Couple keeps old school gas station alive and well in Harper

HARPER, Kan. (KSNW) - Until the mid-1970's, full-service gas stations were the norm across the nation, but now there's only a few left in Kansas. 

One young couple has taken over one of the remaining stations and they have plans to restore its nostalgic feel.

KSN's Stephanie Bergmann and Photojournalist Raoul Cortez take us to the town of Harper for this week's Main Street Kansas. 

Friendly, full service is what folks in Harper have come to expect since Joe's Service gas station first opened back in 1959. 

"You come in here and they just take care of you. You don't have to worry about a thing," said Karen Carr, customer of Joe's Service. 

It costs a few cents more per gallon than self-serve, and paying with a credit card takes longer, since there is nothing digital on the gas pumps, only dials. 

"The dinger goes off. We come out. We'll wash your windows, we'll check your oil, check yours tires if you want us to," explained Jenni Carr, new owner of Joe's Service. 

Even the old cash register inside is old school. But, the customers never have to move a muscle. 

"When it's really cold, rainy, icy, I stay dry," said Charlotte Harding, customer. "Those guys have to get wet!"

But with only a handful of full service gas stations left in Kansas, the concept still confuses some of the newer customers. 

"Every once in a while, you'll walk around the corner of the car, and they'll start to get out of their car and it will scare 'em, or 'What are you doing here?' 'Well, I come to pump your gas!'" said Casey Carr. 

The tradition almost stalled last year when the original Joe wanted to retire at age 70, but he couldn't find a buyer for the station.

Then, almost like destiny, the couple -- whose very last name is Carr -- stepped in. 




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