The Oysterville Store… as God intended!

Jun 22, 2013 | 6 comments

Tom and Sam Andrews' Store, 1915

Tom and Sam Andrews’ Store, 1915

There has always been an Oysterville Store.  When I say always, I mean since 1858 which was actually four years after the town was founded.  (So, okay, not quite “always.”  But in the great scheme of things, close enough.)

Isaac Clark was proprietor of that first store.  Clark, along with my great-grandfather, R,H, Espy, founded Oysterville.  As far as I know, Clark’s Store was the first commercial enterprise in the settlement.  There would be additional stores over the next few decades.  John Crellin had a store.  John Morehead had a store. Charles Sperry had a store.  And by the turn of the century, Tom and Sam Andrews, uncle and nephew, had a store.

Andrews Post Office and Service Station circa 1930

Andrews’ Store, Post Office, Service Station circa 1930

The record is not clear as to whether or not any of these stores were operating at the same time, but what is clear is that they were all “general mercantile” stores.  Whatever you needed – groceries, dry goods, hardware – that you didn’t grow or make yourself, you got at “the store.”  There was no other choice short of making the long journey to Portland.

Our present-day Oysterville Store traces its beginnings back to Tom and Sam Andrews’ store on Territory Road.  That was the store my mother remembered from her childhood – the store where everybody in town ran a tab.  When they were finally able to put something on their bill, the receipt was given with a handful of penny candy “for the youngsters.”

Tom’s nephew Bert and his wife, Minnie, took over the store and post office in 1918 – first Minnie became the postmistress and then Bert got into the store business.  From elsewhere in town they moved a two-story house to the foot of Davis Hill, built a small building to serve as post office and installed gas  pumps to supply the growing demand by the “new-fangled-automobile-machines.”

Store circa 1940

Oysterville Store circa 1940

Bert drove his own automobile-truck to Nahcotta each day to pick up the mail at the train depot.  Soon he was offering to pick up groceries for the neighbors – a sack of flour or a can of kerosene.  In nothing flat, the enterprising Bert realized that he needed to reinstate his uncle’s store business and once again the Oysterville Store became the lifeline of the village.  The Andrews’ Store is what every single person now living has always known in Oysterville.

When I was growing up as a summer kid here in the late 1930s and throughout the ‘40s, the Oysterville Store was where we went for our day-to-day shopping needs.  It was a “general merchandise” store and sold everything from penny candy to oil cloth off the roll that most households used to cover their kitchen tables.

If there wasn’t enough milk for the breakfast mush, one of us could run to “the store” and get it.  And, if Papa had been late in getting his garden started, we could buy string beans or peas or potatoes at “the store.”  It was the only commercial establishment in town (not counting the canneries) and we depended upon it in a big way.

Store and Post Office 2006

Oysterville Store and Post Office, 2006

The store building, then as now, housed the post office and, after picking up our mail (and even though money was scarce), we often went into the store to buy a much-needed light bulb or, on very lucky days, a bottle of pop out of the refrigerator or a licorice whip from the big glass candy case.

I don’t remember many changes in the store’s merchandise when the Wrights owned it during the 1950s or even when the Munseys owned it in the 1960s and 1970s.  In fact,  during the 1980s and ’90s and clear into the aughts when the Smiths owned the business, we could still depend upon Oysterville Store to carry the basics – butter, milk, eggs, bread, onions, potatoes – even  tomatoes and strawberries in season.  Jean and John Smith reminisced about those days to me during an interview I did with them in January  for the Chinook Observer:

 “When we first came we stocked dairy products from that place [Peninsula Dairy] on the back road,” said John.  “And we had fresh meat delivered from a place in South Bend.  We served as a regular grocery store.”

Since Greg Rogers bought the ‘Andrews property’ last October, the store has been closed for renovations.  It’s set to reopen on July 5th and then, once again, we’ll have a general store in Oysterville as (to quote my friend, Te) God intended!

6 Comments

  1. Tom | Tall Clover Farm

    It’s nice to see Greg has landed in such a special place, as his friends on Vashon Island were so sorry to see him go, but we can live with his being happy in charming Oysterville.

    Reply
  2. Stephanie Frieze

    Jo, Jon and I definitely intend to be there! It will be one of the delightful parts of my summer!

    Reply
  3. Christine Rose

    We were on a road trip and I wanted to see the Washington coast and of course, Oysterville(I’m a big fan of oysters!) But the store wasn’t open–any way I can get a T-shirt? Love it there!

    Reply
    • sydney

      Sorry you missed an opportunity to visit the store. The only day it is closed is Tuesday; otherwise it’s open from 9:30 to 5:30. Hope you have an opportunity to try again. Sydney

      Reply
  4. Sue Marlette

    The reno of the store looks wonderful, even though the previous layout was fun to explore too. My friend (Bonnie) and I stopped in for old times sake and had a great visit with Greg. Very well spoken man with an eye for merchandising. We’ll do it again for sure. Thank you for the history lesson, Greg!

    Reply
  5. John Downer

    The window lettering is now done and dusted (with aluminum powder). Tomorrow, I will trim the excess paint, and then shade the word, Oysterville, in red. I’ll add some scrollwork in red, too. The sign should last for decades, if the glass remains unbroken.

    Reply

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