Thousands of vehicles zip and zoom down 23rd Street in Independence every day, their drivers and passengers en route to work, school, home and everything in between. This includes me, and lately I’ve noticed a strobe light after dusk at one particular business.

A tiny building at 603 E. 23rd St. is the source of the strobe light: Pop N Dar’s Stop N Go. Owners Darlene and Dan Conley opened it – their first business – on Nov. 28. After working as a waitress for 30 years, Darlene broke her ankle last May, and doctors told her she could no longer wait tables. She wasn’t about to give up her love of customer service, though.

After deciding to open their own business, Dan and Darlene decided on a name. Dan is known as “Pop” by everybody, from neighbors to his own grandchildren. And while Darlene worked as a waitress, small children who couldn’t pronounce her name would call her “Dar Dar.” Combine the two with a convenience store that comes to its customers, and you’ve got Pop N Dar’s Stop N Go.

Darlene is no stranger to the 23rd Street location. She’s shopped there for years, when it was known as the Milk Jug, for milk, bread, cigarettes and pop (before Pop N Dar’s, the store was Star Stop N Go, Mini Stop and Milk Jug).

With two part-time employees, Pop N Dar’s serves its customers who pull up to either entrance on the north and south sides. They place their orders for small grocery items, pop, cigarettes and sandwiches, and employees do the rest. (The exception is with alcohol products. Customers must go into the store to purchase alcohol because of city regulations.)

Darlene enjoys meeting new people and making their day with a big smile – she said she aims for friendliness and wants to learn everybody’s name. But it hasn’t all been easy.

“We have our good days, and we have our bad days,” Darlene said. “But each day seems like it gets a little better. The weather has a lot to do with it.”

Pop N Dar’s is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It’s closed on Sundays, because that’s Darlene’s day to spend with her grandchildren. The business also features Darlene’s homemade sandwiches, including chili cheese dogs, barbecue brisket, ham and cheese and turkey and Swiss, as well as bowls of chili.

She wants her customers to walk away feeling satisfied and like they are part of the Conley family. Several customers stopped by within 30 minutes on Monday afternoon for packs of cigarettes, an afternoon Dr Pepper and a hot sandwich. And that strobe light? Well, it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“I’ve had little kids that come in and this one lady said, ‘Oh, tell me where you got your light.’ My grandson said, ‘Grandma, I just have to have one of those lights,’” Darlene said with a laugh. “It was cute.”