For those traveling through the east side of Owensboro, Fischers Keystop is known for a lot more than just a place to refuel. For over 30 years, the station has operated under the mentality of selling service first. One unique aspect of this family-owned business is the history behind it.
Joey Fischer started managing People’s Service Station in October 1977 at the age of 21. Following a lay off from his previous employer, he was able to join his brother Jimmy who already worked there and informed him of the need for a manager. When Joey was hired for the position, he never realized that one day he would own the business. On Christmas Eve that year, he met his wife while pumping her gas.
By 1979, he started leasing the station from People’s. The first wrecker of the business was purchased in December of 1980, which led to brothers David and Tommy Fischer becoming part of the wrecker business, which they continue to operate today.
The name “Fischers Keystop” officially took over the sign out front in 1990 when Joey and his dad, Bill Fischer, bought the station. Since then, Fischers Keystop has become known for the full-service mentality, which means they will pump gas rain or shine, check oil, clean the windshield and air up tires.
One of the most memorable experiences for Fischers came from the ice storm in 2009. Power was out all over town and other stations began to raise the price for kerosene, which people desperately needed to heat their homes.
While some used this as an opportunity to make an extra dollar, Fischers refused to charge anything more. Joey got all of the family to the station to pitch in and had their fuel provider refill the kerosene tank over and over again. There was a line to the highway all day without a single incident. When the kerosene ran out, customers retreated to their cars to wait and returned to their place in line with the next delivery. Fischer urged customers to remain patient and made sure that each person was taken care of.
Sisters Sara Aud and Joy Kaye Abel worked during the storm, scanning credit and debit cards the old fashioned way to input later, running fully on the trust that had been built with their customers and good faith for the ones they didn’t know. When the phone lines came back up, Abel remembers punching every ticket manually, finding that it was over $10,000 in sales.
Out of all the cards entered, only two were declined for a total of $45. Their service to the community during a time of crisis paid off.
“Dad compared everything to the blizzard of ‘78 and, when the ice storm happened, he said it had the blizzard beat!” Abel said.
On Jan. 1, 2012, the station caught fire causing major damage to the business. This resulted in the station using a temporary building from their friends at Reid’s Orchard until their station was up and running again on January 25. According to the family, the fire taught them a lot about perseverance in business.
In 2016, Joey Fischer passed away unexpectedly. His daughter Joy quit her job and jumped in to keep the business running before handing it back over to her mom Sondra. The family pulled together to keep Fischers Keystop the way customers remember.
“We don’t charge more to pump your gas,” Abel said. “We also don’t take tips, but if someone insists, we throw the money in a big jar and donate it to different charities — which I think says a lot about our employees and our family.”
The unique atmosphere of Fischers Keystop keeps customers coming back.
“The place we hold now looks so much different than it did 30 years ago when it was expected that you would go into a business and get to know the owners,” Aud said. “Now loyalty is much more difficult to come by because there is a cheaper option on every corner. The fact that we are still standing says a lot about our place here.”