36 years on Highway 63: Robert's Service Center closes up shop

36 years on Highway 63: Robert's Service Center closes up shop

PORTIA, AR (KAIT) - 36 years on Highway 63.

Friday night, Robert's Service Center in Portia shut off the pumps for the last time but not before friends and family stopped by to say thank you for their decades of service.

Robert's Service Center in Portia, Arkansas has seen a lot of traffic over the years. Not just from those who pass by along Highway 63 but from those who stop in.

In over thirty years of business, there have been a lot of people who stop in.

Because for over thirty years, Robert and Fern Shelton have seen customers turn into friends. For over thirty years, Robert's has been known as the place to stop and get your oil changed or fill up your tank.

More importantly, people know they can expect the things that make Robert's Service Center such a unique place.

From the credit books in the corner to Peanut, the 14-year-old shop cat curled up by the heater.

Maybe most famously, people know they can expect an ice cold Coca-Cola.

"The old Dr. Pepper box that they're in is approximately 64 years old. A couple years ago, someone asked me how old it was and I said, 'it's 62 years old.' And they said 'and still working?' And I said, 'well, I'm 64 and I'm still working, so why shouldn't it keep working?'" Robert laughed.

But after over thirty years, Robert and Fern say it's time to close up shop.

Robert's been planning it for awhile. He wanted to close in July.

"That didn't work, decided I'd close at the first of September and I had a fall in August," Robert explained.

Things kept getting pushed back but a few weeks ago, the Shelton's realized why.

"I said, 'do you know when we opened up?' And she said 'November of '78' and I said 'but do you know what day?' And she said 'I don't know' and I said 'November the 15 of 1978,'" Shelton said. "And we're closing down on November the 14. It's just all coincidence that it came up."

So on the eve of their 36th year in business, the Sheltons say goodbye.

Though sometimes, goodbyes can be tough, the Sheltons say they're ready for a change of pace.

"We have had some of the most amazing, loyal customers," Robert said.

So to those customers, as they close their doors for the final time, they leave their friends with one last message.

"Thanks for the memories."

Robert will still have his trailer business across the street and says for those who rely on those ice cold Cokes during the summer, he's moving the Dr. Pepper chest over there too.

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