One of Springfield’s last remaining full service gas stations closing next week
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - There aren’t too many of ‘em around the Ozarks anymore and next week one of the last remaining full service gas stations in Springfield will be closing its doors.
The Brentwood Service Center has been a fixture at the corner of Glenstone and Seminole in southeast Springfield since 1955 when Texaco first built the station. In 1964 Ed Wagoner bought it and his son Chip, who started working for his father at the station when he was 12 years-old, took over in 1979.
Even now, over four decades later, the station still offers full service as people can still get their gas pumped, oil checked and windows washed by a station employee in a world now dominated by self service businesses.
“It’s been taken over by convenience stores,” Chip said. “And the more they did that the more customers I got.”
But next Thursday, as September comes to a close, so does the Brentwood Service Center.
Chip is going out of business and a Rapid Roberts will eventually be opening at the same spot.
As you would expect, Chip’s customers are mourning the loss.
“Oh my God, that’s terrible,” said Theresa Burch, who was visiting from Kansas City and used GPS to find a full service place where she could get her oil and water checked. “If you’re an old woman like me and not sure why your car is overheating, you want somebody who’s a professional to look at it.”
“I wish they were all like this,” said Martin Ratermann, who was visiting from the Columbia area. “It’s about personal service and relationships.”
“It’s sad to see ‘em go,” added Gary Miller, who’s been coming to the station for 30 years. “It’s the end of an era. And Chip and I have become good friends.”
Chip has certainly developed a loyal customer base over the years. But he’s decided to retire to travel and spend more time with his family, especially after a health scare.
“Five years ago I had a kidney transplant,” he said. “And I want to enjoy life because the average life of a kidney is 12 years.”
One major difference in self service and full service pumps is that by being a full service station Chip gets to interact with customers every day.
“It’s like family,” he said. “They’ve been with us so long.”
“It’s bittersweet,” added his wife of 40 years, Jackie. “He’s been here since he was 12 and has a relationship with a lot of these people. He’s going to miss that and they’re going to miss him.”
And many of those full service customers need him. Some drivers can’t physically do the tasks Chip does for them and he has in some ways become a honey-do service. Chip recalled the many times when he made service calls to people’s homes to fix cars and ended up fixing other problems too.
“The washer and dryer wouldn’t work and I’d go in there and flip a breaker,” he said. “And a lot of ladies come here because they’ve lost their husbands and because their husbands used to come here to fill up their cars, they do the same now.”
Jackie, who started dating Chip when she was 15 years-old, also works at the station and was asked about the old adage that relationships can’t survive being together 24 hours a day.
“My mother-in-law said she would have never worked with her husband,” Jackie said. “But it’s worked out for us.”
Soon customers will have to work out what they’re going to do about finding another full service station.
“There’s a market for it,” Chip said. “But it’s labor intensive. When you figure it out the time it takes my mechanic to come off a job and go do the gas and come back, you’re probably not making any money.”
But Chip knows once he’s closed, people will still be wanting his help.
“I’m gonna change my phone number,” he said with a laugh. “A lot of customers have my cell number.”
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