National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day is a chance for all of us to celebrate the little shops and stores where they don’t just sell you something, but they know your name. It’s a chance to celebrate the people that work tirelessly to do their own thing. One of the absolute favorite parts of our Route 66 tours is stopping by to support countless mom and pop places along the Mother Road.
Here are a few we’d like to say thank you to on National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day… (Of course, this is just a SMALL sampling of the many we love!)
Holly and Tully, owners of the Launching Pad, embody the spirit of Route 66’s resurgence to a T. The Wilmington, IL eatery has always been a favorite photo op for RT66 travelers with its gigantic “Gemini Giant,” but the restaurant itself sat closed for a quite a period of time. Then, enter Holly and Tully with their vision and perseverance… Today, the restaurant is firing on all-cylinders and once again serving up food to hungry road warriors as they journey through Illinois. (The staff is also top-notch!)
Wagon Wheel Motel
There are plenty of wonderful motels still rockin’ along Route 66, but Connie has truly worked wonders on the iconic Wagon Wheel Motel of Cuba, MO. The rooms, which feel more like cottages, have been so lovingly restored, and her gift shop is about as warm and inviting as you’ll find. (We should also give a big shout out to Ramona down the road in Lebanon and her tireless efforts to keep the Munger Moss humming right along!)
Just down the Route from the Wagon Wheel you’ll find Fanning Outpost. The Thompsons are a great example of seeing an opportunity and taking it. By combining their front-end gift shop (filled with great fudge, popcorn, soda, and gifts) with their back-end feedstore, Fanning Outpost serves not only the hungry Route 66 traveler but also the local community. Of course, they also keep the largest rocking chair on Route 66 tip-top for all our photos!
Gary’s Sinclair Station
Ok, we know we talk about Gary’s in Gay Parita a lot. It’s for good reason. The late Gary Turner was the epitome of Route 66 hospitality, and now, his daughter Barb and main-man George carry on his traditions while continuing to add more funky and fun stuff to the property every year.
Talk about a stretch of Route 66 packed with mom and pop gems! Tucumcari features several incredible motels. From the ultra-cool mid-century modern motels like the Roadrunner Lodge and Motel Safari to the iconic Blue Swallow motel, there’s no shortage of good places to lay your head in this town. Then there’s the shopping like the famed TeePee Curios and Flora May’s Route 66 Welcome Center. Hungry? How about lunch at Kix or a nice dinner at Del’s? Seriously, we feel bad we’re still just SCRATCHING the surface here!
Jack Rabbit Trading Post
Of the extreme number of Route 66 knick-knacks on the walls of the Two Lane America headquarters, perhaps none mean as much to us as our mileage sign from Jack Rabbit Trading Post outside Joseph, AZ! Cindy & Tony greet every traveler with such joy that we literally look forward to this part of our day on every tour. Their prices are fair, their hearts friendly, and their giant jackrabbit a blast to take pictures on.
Angel & Vilma’s Route 66 Gift Shop (Barbershop)
For many associated with Route 66, this one won’t need any introduction. Angel and Vilma are kind of like the patron saints of Route 66. (You’ll hear him referred to as the “Angel of the Route.”) Today, the store remains a family affair, and no Route 66 trip is complete without a trip to Seligman, AZ, specifically their barbershop turned gift emporium.
We should also note, Seligman is filled with plenty of other mom and pop shops like the Sno-Cap, Roadrunner, and more.
Like we said, this is just a small little example of what we love about Route 66… Each state of Route 66 is filled with museums, diners, old filling stations, and other spots lovingly owned and operated by families or dedicated volunteers. From art galleries in Amarillo to old filling stations staffed with friendly volunteers, the whole of Route 66 is one big mom and pop bonanza!