Archive for Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Era ends

Tonganoxie B&J BP station closes; pay-at-the-pump open

January 31, 2012

Terri Chop has prepared taco fixings each Wednesday for several years at B&J BP.

And as they’ve done all those years, customers filed in this past Wednesday for tacos or taco salad.

But the weekly special won’t be available anymore — the business just south of U.S. Highway 24-40 closed last week after 15 years.

Inventory will be moved next door to B&J Country Mart and customers still can fill up with gasoline at the pump with a credit or debit card.

But it will be the end of a long era for Chop and customers she’s gotten to know well through the years, some of whom she’s seen grow up before her eyes.

“I do appreciate all the loyal customers who have been here through the years,” Chop said. “I will miss them very much.”

Taco Wednesdays will continue at B&J Country Mart and be served from the grocery store’s deli.

Owner Jim Gambrill said the slow economy played a role in closing the convenience store side of the business.

“It’s a sign of the times,” Gambrill said.

Other services offered at the convenience store, such as pizza and soft-serve ice cream, might be served at the grocery store, but Gambrill said that would be dependent upon space available in the deli.

The station complemented the grocery store for years, a combination that has become popular with grocery chains. Gambrill had the station built in the mid-1990s next to B&J Country Mart, which has been at its location on Ridge Street since the mid-1980s. Renovations were made to the store a decade ago, Gambrill said. His work in the grocery business dates back to 1972 when his store opened where the Casey’s is situated on U.S. Highway 24-40.

The store was there for 13 years before moving farther east along U.S. 24-40 to its current locale.

Several in the community gathered daily at the station and formed the unofficial Tonganoxie Liars Club. Photos of club “members” adorned the walls of the station. Chop hopes to move the photos to the grocery store, which could be the new home for the club.

Louie Seufert, one of those club members, referred to each gathering as “a good bull session.”

Seufert was at the station for its final day of operation this past Wednesday, as was Bill Peak.

They said topics ranged from weather and national issues to politics, religion and even some good jokes.

“It’s 99 percent friendly,” Peak said. “No maliciousness. It’s a good, healthy time.”

Seufert said the Liars Club would continue to meet, possibly in the dining area near the grocery store’s deli.

“I’m sure we’ll gravitate somewhere else,” Seufert said.

Asked whether the Liars Club has solved world problems at the station, Chop said “quite a few.”

“If you have a problem, this is where you can come for help,” Chop joked.

Though the roughly 1,600-square-foot building has closed, Gambrill said a few people have expressed interest in renting the building. He said he would have liked to keep the station open, but he thought more customers were getting gasoline and then heading next door to buy groceries. They still will be able accomplish both. And if there are any issues with paying at the pump, customers can visit the customer service desk at the grocery store.

“I’d like to thank everyone for patronizing the store, but things happen,” Gambrill said.

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