One by one, drivers pulled into the lot of the old Harder's Shell station today expecting to fill up their gas tank, only to realize the gas pumps have disappeared and the store has been closed up.
"It just seemed so sudden," said customer Lori Ahrenhoerster. "I always got gas there."
The gas station at 303 E Hampton Road had been in business for decades before it closed Monday night. Harder's Amoco first opened in 1961 at Lydell Avenue and Hampton Road, and later switched to a Shell station and moved to its current location in 1983.
Gene Harder, who owns the gas station, said his parents sold the property without his knowledge for financial reasons. He said his dad retired in 1997, and he has operated the business ever since.
The sale of the Shell station has been very emotional for Harder, who has worked at the gas station for 45 years – ever since he was 12 years old.
"The phone's been ringing all day with people wondering what's going on," he said. "It's been very sad."
Village officials say they have not yet received any permit applications to reopen the business.
(This story was updated at 5:26 p.m. Oct. 2 to include comments from Gene Harder.)