Wallevands sell Pete’s Amoco after nearly 50 years in the family
By Chad Koenen
As the lights turned off for the final time last week, there was a sense of finality for a business that has been a staple on the corner of Douglas Ave. and Inman St. for generations. If the walls at Pete’s Amoco in Henning could only talk they would have a lifetime of stories to tell about everything from muscle cars coming through the doors to modern day vans and hybrid vehicles.
Last week Pete and Beth Wallevand sold Pete’s Amoco, which was one of the final full-service gas stations in the area, to Rahn’s Oil. While the convenience store and shop are mostly dark, the gas pumps and full-service nature of the gas station will remain until the construction of a new convenience store is fully operational later this fall.
Pete purchased the business from his uncle Jim Wallevand 25 years ago this summer. His uncle owned the shop and gas station for 23 years, and during that time, family members routinely chipped in by not only pumping gas, but in the shop as well. That included Pete who, other than a few months following high school, has worked at the shop since he was just 14-years-old.
“I worked for Jim at the time. He needed to do some upgrades and was getting to retirement age,” said Pete. “I really didn’t know what else I would do. I figured I would give it a shot.”
When he originally purchased the shop and gas station from his uncle, rumors quickly spread that the Wallevands were going to get away from offering a full-service gas station. Any thought to the contrary was quickly put the rest when Pete said the community expressed their desire to keep the gas station as a full-service option.
While pumping gas for customers who pulled up to the tank took some additional time from the shop itself, Pete said it also created some additional business as conversations were struck up with patrons as the gas flowed into their tanks. That included scheduling oil changes, getting new tires and describing some strange noises coming from the back of the car.
“It’s an elderly community and people really wanted to keep it,” he said. “It created more work for the shop as well.”
Through the years, Pete said he enjoyed the variety of each day at the shop. In addition to operating the convenience store and shop, Pete remained busy responding to wrecker calls throughout the region. The variety of repairs he would encounter in the shop, as well as responding to wrecker calls throughout the year, provided a unique variety of work for Pete throughout the year.
“It was something different everyday. You never knew what would happen, especially with the wrecker,” said Pete.
After working at the family-owned convenience store and shop for most of his life, Pete has gotten to know just about every vehicle in the region. Since he would have to pick up and drop off vehicles, he learned where most families lived. That made for some interesting drives through the country as Beth said he would rattle off who was driving a vehicle they would pass on the highway or share a story about the resident of a home they would pass by on a country road.
“He knows everybody and knows where they live and what kind of car they drive,” said Beth with a laugh.
Last week the Wallevands officially sold their family shop and gas station to Rahn’s Oil, which also purchased the adjacent Denny’s Food N Sport. In its place will be a new convenience store, gas pumps, bottle shop and car wash.
Beth said the building was in need of some upgrades in the near future, which were more than they wanted to take on as the couple neared the age for retirement. The family officially sold the shop and gas station on July 5 after approaching Rahn’s Oil about potentially purchasing the shop last year.
“We heard Rahn’s was interested in Denny’s and decided if he wanted to expand that we would throw it out there and see if he was interested,” said Pete.
The old gas pumps will remain open until the gas pumps at the new convenience store are fully operational, and the full service nature of Pete’s Amoco will remain during the week until the building and gas pumps are eventually torn down later this year.
While he will no longer be operating the shop and convenience store, Pete will not be entering retirement just yet. He will continue to operate his wrecker and towing service and just recently ordered a new flatbed truck to add to his fleet of vehicles.
Pete said he still enjoys towing vehicles and the variety each call presents on a daily and weekly basis and is looking forward to focusing on that aspect of his business, while the new convenience store comes closer to reality in Henning.