A 'route' you cannot miss.
GALENA - If you ever find yourself driving down Route 66, the historic stretch of road that takes you through many parts of the Midwest and into the western states through California, make sure you cruise through Galena, KS. Just three hours southeast of Wichita, you'll come across an old gas station that is now a one-stop shop for snacks, soda drinks, antiques and an old 1950's truck that is said to the be the inspiration for a character in the movie, Cars.
The shop is aptly called 4 Women on the Route; Melba Rigg, Renee Charles, Betty Courtney and Judy Courtney purchased the property several years ago and after a couple years of renovations, they officially opened up shop.
But it's no longer just a place for travelers to pass through. 4 Women on the Route is now a destination point; a place to take a break, get a snack and learn about the local history. Some may wonder, how much business can a little shop located on that particular stretch of Route 66 really get? "Last year alone, we had 3,000 Europeans and 1,000 Americans visit," Rigg says proudly.
As we talk on the phone, travelers from New York come through the door. Rigg immediately welcomes them and asks where they're from. It's this kind of hospitality that helped award the shop Small Business of the Year in 2008. "'You should be mayor, you're so into it!' people say," Melba says. "I give everything 110 percent."
Open from April through early October, 4 Women on the Route sells Route 66 and Cars memorabilia. There is also a small diner - so small, it seats only 12. "That includes the cook," Rigg adds. Hungry patrons can chow down on the Route 66 hamburger, or the Reuben sandwich, which Rigg says has been voted Best Reuben for the past four years.
A lot has changed since the 4 Women on the Route opened up shop six years ago. At that time, there wasn't much around the store; a mere two restaurants existed along the road. Now, Rigg says there are about 10 restaurants in that part of town. No one is competitive though. Rigg says they all stick together and help each other out.
4 Women on the Route has garnered national attention as well, if not for their ties to the inspiration for Tow Mater, one of the main characters in the lm, Cars. Visitors can see the 1951 International Boom truck that is a direct influence for Tow Mater. (For PIXAR copyright reasons, Rigg says they were asked to call their truck another name. So, they held a contest and chose the winning name: Tow Tater.)
One visitor included a reporter from National Public Radio (NPR); the story went live on NPR's website in late June. And earlier this year, representatives from PIXAR and Disney visited 4 Women on the Route to interview them about Tow Mater for the blue ray DVD release for Cars 2. "It will be on the special feature DVD coming out in the fall," says Rigg.
A lot of people have passed through this particular spot on Route 66, which runs just over 13 miles through the state of Kansas. If you find yourself on this road, make sure to stop in 4 Women on the Route. Perhaps Rigg will greet you, ask you where you're from, and tell you a story or two.