MEDFORD — Beginning by stocking shelves at the age of 7, John Anhorn’s entire life revolves around memories inside the local gas and tire shop down Medford’s Main Street.
“About a year later I started balancing tires,” Anhorn said with a hearty laugh. “That’s something easy a kid can do.”
The family business, Anhorn’s Gas and Tire, has remained both a cornerstone in Anhorn’s life as well as a cornerstone in the Medford community. In 2019, the shop is celebrating 70 years in business, a milestone that took three generations, several additions, and one pop-up root beer float stand to reach.
“The front door has always been in the same place, though,” said Anhorn as he showed off nostalgic photos of the shop’s evolution. “That’s something that will never change.”
Despite how naturally running the shop seems to be for Anhorn — some may say that it’s even in his genes — it wasn’t always his intention to take the reins of the business that was first started by his grandfather in 1949. In the early ‘90s, Anhorn embarked off to college in Duluth with the aspirations of becoming a high school math teacher. When his mother got ill in December 1994, Anhorn’s father began debating if it was time to sell the business. It took one week of Anhorn stepping in to run the store to realize that it was exactly where he was meant to be.
“I just realized how much I enjoy it, and I should do what I enjoy,” Anhorn said. Within a couple of months, Anhorn returned back to their corner in Medford to work alongside his father until his death in 2001.
“It took a few years after Dad passed to do all the things we always wanted to do,” Anhorn said as he discussed the numerous additions to the once 14-foot shop. “After that I got to start on the things I wanted done.”
Anhorn acknowledges that reaching a 70th anniversary is not a common feat for family-owned businesses, especially ones located in a town the size of Medford. As far as he’s concerned, however, the success his family has continued to find is all within the people.
“It’s a customer business,” Anhorn explained. “We sell good products at a fair price. But a lot of the customers are my friends, and that’s how we treat them.”
Anhorn typically holds an annual customer appreciation day in the fall, but with such an important anniversary he decided to take the opportunity to contribute to the town he loves’ biggest event of the year — Straight River Days. By combining the two events, Anhorn hopes that he will be able to accurately thank the people of Medford for 70 great years.
On Friday and Saturday, Anhorn’s Gas and Tire will host free lunches from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will include hot dogs, chips, and water. Anhorn will also be bringing in a Bigfoot Monster Truck to have on site — an attraction they have provided in the past for previous milestone anniversaries. There will also be registration available throughout the two days for people to wine various door prizes, including lottery ticket promotions and a $500 tire voucher grand prize.
On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. the third annual Extreme Car and Motorcycle Show will take place on Main Street in front of Anhorn’s. The top three motorcycles and top 10 cars will be voted on by participants and trophies will be awarded by the Medford Civic Club at 1 p.m. sharp. There is a $10 entry fee per vehicle.