Cars on the Route put up for sale

Cars on the Route, Galena, KS

Cars on the Route of Galena, Kansas, which helped usher in a revival of its downtown, is being put up for sale. It will remain open, however, for at least a few more weeks to greet Route 66 tourists.

Renee Charles, one of the founders of the business almost 10 years ago, and partner Brian Jordan are having the property appraised, along with the vehicles that resemble characters from the 2006 Disney-Pixar movie “Cars.”

Doug Gatewood, manager of Jordan’s Galena Liberty Hall, said the deal would include the business, the land and the intellectual property, plus vehicles that resemble Tow Mater the tow truck, Doc the Hornet Hudson, a Buick as the Sheriff of Radiator Springs, and Red the firetruck.

The rusty 1951 International boom truck that was the original inspiration to Tow Mater is not part of the deal, however, Charles has controlling interest of the truck until Larry Courtney’s daughter turns 18 — about 2020. Courtney helped financially get the business off the ground when it opened.

Volunteers were preparing the property to be open for tourism season this week. Charles said several tours were scheduled to stop at Cars on the Route soon, and they wanted to make sure they would be greeted.

Charles said she’d been thinking about selling Cars on the Route for a while, especially after charter member Melba Rigg announced her retirement in January.

“It’s sad … I can’t afford to keep it running,” Charles said. “I don’t have the money or the time. If it wasn’t for Brian, it wouldn’t have stayed open.”

Regardless, Charles sees the importance of Cars on the Route for the community and Route 66.

“It needs to stay open,” she said. “I’d like (the buyer) to be a local area roadie who wants it. We want somebody who really cares about Route 66.”

Charles said at least one investment group of Galena residents and an Englishman already is looking at buying Cars on the Route.

Jared Thompson of Transworld Business Advisors will be the broker for the sale. Interested parties should contact him at (479) 202-4715, Gatewood at (620) 762-0076 or Charles at (620) 202-1615.

The business originally opened in late 2006 as 4 Women on the Route — a souvenir shop and small cafe in a renovated Kan-O-Tex gas station. The four women who ran the shop were Charles, Rigg, Betty Courtney and Judy Courtney. It opened a few months after the premiere of “Cars.”

The business changed its name to Cars on the Route in 2013 because of an ownership reshuffling and to more strongly identify with “Cars.”

Cars on the Route may have occupied a small corner of Route 66 in Galena, but it led to big things in town. The mayor was so inspired by the business’ ability to draw tourists, he shepherded an effort to spruce up downtown with repaved streets and streetscaping. That led to new businesses springing up there.

(Hat tip to Phyllis Grey; image of Cars on the Route in Galena, Kansas, by Tony Hisgett via Flickr)

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