Interview with Stacy Smith, Manager of the Yachats Mercantile
Stacy: I don’t know if you know, that Linda is the owner, and she bought the Mercantile from Ned who had it before.
TYG: But you’re the general, on the ground, manager aren’t you?
Stacy: I guess so yes.
TYG: Because I always think of you as the Mercantile--you and Ned, because Ned was in charge of it for so long.
Stacy: That’s right, he owned it. And then he sold the business to Linda.
TYG: And of course he still works there occasionally.
Stacy: Sometimes he does, although he’s officially retired now. A lot of people are worried about Ned. They come in and they say: “Where’s Ned?” And I say: “It’s all good, he’s okay, he’s just retired.” And then other customers ask about the cat. People miss the cat [Misty]. She went with Wyatt [who took over the mercantile for a period after Ned] and she moved upriver. Before she was just in the Mercantile all the time, she never went out. And now, she’s an indoor outdoor cat. And according to Wyatt, she’s quite happy and very healthy. So people don’t have to worry about her. Although I still do find cat hair every once in a while.
So, Linda took it over, some years and months ago but I don’t know exactly when. I’ve been with the mercantile for a little over a year.
TYG: I think of the Mercantile is having three periods: Ned and Wyatt and then Linda and you. […] Were you working locally prior to this?
Stacy: Before this, I had a cabinet shop in Waldport with my husband [Chris Gramaans]. So we had woodworking in Waldport. We started that in ‘86. We sold it--I can’t remember what year it was, but we had it like 20 years. […] And we had a business before that too.
TYG: So you were working in Waldport—I’m not quite sure whether to call that local or not.
Stacy: I’d call that local.
TYG: Yes, I guess so…
Stacy: Since I’ve moved here, I’ve worked for the schools—in different positions—and we had our own business, and I homeschooled Milo.
TYG-Graphic Design: What were you doing for the school?
Stacy: I started out doing records. You know how when the kids transfer, from school to school, I was responsible for making sure that their records followed them. And one of the cool things that I got to do, was to put old records on microfilm. So these were old records from before when they had computers. There were teachers’ records with the names of the kids and their ages, and then there were school records. [The school records] would describe the conditions of the school, and would say things like: Coal level is good this year, or The ventilation in the building is good, there are lots of knotholes. That kind of thing. You know back when they had the one room school buildings. […] They also had a science equipment department that was all a mess, and I cleaned that up and inventoried it. And then I worked with hearing-impaired kids. I went to classes with kids and help them with their work.
TYG-GD: Oh! Do you have sign language?
Stacy: I had a little bit of sign language—intermediate, kind of. I also worked with at-risk kids.
TYG: “At-risk kids?”
Stacy: “At-risk,” meaning kids who are having trouble. They might drop out, or they were having trouble at home, or they were having trouble at school and it was hard for them to do their work, hard for them to get motivated and come to school. Part of my job was to help them with their work, encourage them to stay in school and to get their diploma. And at one point, I actually did a stint for the Forest Service as a guide up at Cape Perpetua. We did those Fireside Talks.
TYG: You’ve had a very varied career!
Stacy: [laughter] Yes that’s what a person has to do around here to make it you know!
TYG: What did you want to accomplish with the Mercantile—what do you want to change, what do you want to redesign?
Stacy: I think that we’ve actually accomplished one of the first things that we set out to do, which is increase the number of people coming into the store, because Linda changed it from just being a hardware store into being a Mercantile that sells everything.
TYG: I know! There are two toys stores in Yachats.
Stacy: What’s the other one?
TYG: The Fireside Lodge gift shop.
Stacy: They have toys there?
TYG: Oh yeah, really good children’s toys, like the Klutz model airplane books—the paper airplane book. That’s like the best book.
Stacy: So that touches on something that’s one of my personal goals. And that is that I think the businesses in Yachats would benefit if we all knew what each other had. And I’ve been working hard to try to figure out what other businesses have, and to get other businesses to know what we have.
TYG: Maybe I should start a blogspot thing—Yachatian Inventory.
Stacy: That’s not a bad idea! Because I didn’t know that they had toys at the Fireside. […] Do you go there a lot?
TYG: No, I just visited there and I just learned that.
Stacy: So you’re doing what everybody wishes they could do, and that is to go around to all the places and find out what they have and where the cool stores are. [Another one of our goals] is expanding the inventory that we have.
TYG: You’ve certainly done that! [laughter]
Stacy: When Linda got the Mercantile from Ned, part of it was blocked off. Part of it was just storage, and you weren’t allowed in there. Then Linda took out a wall and opened that space up for inventory. So then we had a garden section added, and a toy section; we have crafts, we have kites, what else did we also add… Fishing has always been there. Clothing [was an addition]…
TYG: Did we already mention gardening? I really like that tractor lawnmower you have in there.
Stacy: [laughter] Yep, I have a customer who has his eye on that. So we expanded what we had. I think of it as to ways that we serve people: local people, and people who are passing through, visitors. It’s funny how many of those things overlap. People think of the toys as a gift as being something that tourists want.
TYG-GD: No! If I have to bring a gift to a birthday party, I always go to the Mercantile! For example for a 10-11 year old girl, I got a hook and rug kit, and you had everything! The hook, the rug kit, and even the edging for the rug!
Stacy: Yeah, it’s funny. Sometimes we have customers who haven’t been in for a while, and they’re wanting hardware. And they come in and say I don’t want that girly stuff and I say no, we have just as much hardware as when Ned was here, maybe even more!! And it’s fun to watch groups of people come in. There will be some people who are shopping, and they come in because they saw something in the window, and their partner is not interested. They’re not shopping today, because the woman pulled them in because she wanted to look at socks or something. And he comes in the door, and he takes one look, and he says: “Oh!” And he goes over to the hardware section and he’s all into it, and she has to pull him away—and it works the other way too! A couple will come in and there will be one who wants to go over to the hardware section, and the other one says “Oh, this is boring.” and sees something on the other side—you know, people get lost looking on the ceiling! We had a customer in the other day, and here cutting keys for him. And while he was waiting, he was looking along the ceiling, and he and I went over what each of the tools was. He said he used every one of those tools, and he told me what each one was, except for one, which I knew!
I’m trying to think what some of our other goals are—of course, we want to work on our advertising. A lot of people know about us, but not as many people as I would like. I find it embarrassing when a visitor comes to Yachats, and they go in someplace and that place will say “Oh, nobody has any of that!”—and you know there are three places in town that have it. Or when somebody asked me for something, and I can’t tell them where to go, because I don’t know. And I would like it to be where people know what we have. […]
TYG: Why did you decide to switch jobs, and when did you take over at the Mercantile?
Stacy: I was not working at the time, and Linda needed some help. And my husband walked in, and she was talking about feeling overwhelmed, and he said “Well, Stacey is bored at home!” So Linda and I started talking about it. I really respect Linda, and I realized I would like an opportunity to know Linda better, so I thought “Well, I’ll give it a try and see what happens!”
TYG: And of course it worked out beautifully!
Stacy: Well yeah of course!
TYG: How do you think you want to enhance [the Mercantile] and make it work better?
Stacy: Well, I think Linda has a brilliant mind for business. Linda has vision, and she doesn’t think about things in the same narrow way that others might—she thinks very creatively. So she had the idea of adding to the business to bring in other people, which I think was brilliant. And I am constantly amazed at how many people come in from other places and say “This is the best little store! I love this little store. I can’t believe you have all this stuff in here! “
TYG: Admittedly, you inherited a lot of the stuff from Ned, like Ned’s organization.
Stacy: Another thing is that Linda is very good at trying things—she’ll try something and if it doesn’t work, it’s no big deal, she doesn’t get mad about it. So she says “Go ahead, give it a try!” For example I ordered new T-shirts, and I guessed, and of course people never want what you have, and we don’t have room for everything. And then I thought that maybe we should have two color choices. And I said what you think Linda? And she says “I have no clue! Let’s give it a try!” And she’s willing to put out the money and give it a try!
TYG: Where did you come from before Yachats?
Stacy: That’s a long story. I’ve lived here since 1976.
TYG: Cool! The bicentennial anniversary of the United States!
Stacy: Exactly. And on the 4th of July that year, we went down and went smelt fishing with smelt nets. The smelt were coming in like crazy. We moved here from Minnesota.
TYG: You don’t look like a Minnesotan! You look like an Oregonian.
Stacy: Well thanks! And I think I sound like one now… Our family started in the West and then migrated around. We ended up in Minnesota and my father and my stepmother wanted to move to Oregon. So they came out, the two of them, and went to one of the farms in the Willamette Valley—they thought they could buy an old run-down farm. They didn’t have very much money, and they went looking and looking and looking but they couldn’t find anything. So they thought “We’ll go over to the coast, we have one day left.” So they came to the coast, and they were driving down the coast, and there was a “For Sale” sign in front of this house. It was a beautiful house with a long sloping roof and there was a cypress tree behind it, and they fell in love with it. So they called my mother (my father and my mother had divorced – they were divorced when I was about five) and said “We have an idea. Would you help us buy this property? And then when we die will give it to all the kids.” So my mother went in on it, so it belonged to my mother and my father and my stepmother. Do you remember Judy Kaufmann? You interviewed her before [in the Farm Tour issue, August 2013], and she sells jams. Her family is related to the Stonefields, [who] were some of the first pioneers in the area. Bray’s Point… the Brays and the Stonefields were some of the first white people in the area to own property. Bray’s Point, which is south of Yachats, almost to Ten Mile, is named after one of the people who homesteaded here. Bray’s Point is the turn right before the straight stretch starting at the Sea Vue. And Stonefield Beach is named after one of the people who homesteaded at the property where I live, George and Mahala Stonefield.
TYG-GD: I thought it was called “Stonefield” because the beach is stony!
Stacy: That’s what we thought—but no, it’s George Stonefield. And he had the property where we are, and he owned land on both sides of the creek, up to and down, before the bridge was built.
TYG: Then how did he get across?
Stacy: Well, they had a covered bridge just upstream slightly from where the stone bridge is now. And the actual highway—on our property, there is now a driveway, and that’s the old highway. […] Just north of the bridge there’s a pull-out with no signage, and right across from that there’s a field, and that’s our property. Right now my brother Rex, he and his family have a house there, and Chris and I have a house on the hill.
TYG-GD: So you have another brother [besides Ian Smith, with whom Stacey performs]. I don’t think I’ve met Rex.
Stacy: He’s a handyman kind of guy, and an artist—he does sculpture and carves wood, and he does copper. And he paints. He doesn’t do painting very often—he usually adds paint to what he’s doing.
TYG-GD: You guys are an artsy family! Music, and art…
Stacy: Our dad was an artist too—a wood-carver and sculptor.
TYG-GD: Do you and Ian have an official band?
Stacy: We do! Ian and I and Whalen—who also works at the Mercantile—are in a band together. We often play here [at the Drift Inn].
TYG: Was there anything else you wanted to talk about?
Stacy: Well, maybe homeschooling, because it’s good to tell people that there are a lot of people out there—successful people—who homeschool. It helps people who don’t homeschool understand that it’s a valid choice. I homeschooled Milo [Milo Graamans, her son] from beginning to graduation, and we had a great time.
TYG: Really? How did he get a diploma?
Stacy: He didn’t get one! We just had our own little private party! You don’t have to have a diploma…
TYG-GD: Did he get a GED, or not?
Stacy: He chose not to get the GED because he could get into the University by taking the SAT, and they accepted him. Some of the universities ask you, and if you say you were homeschooled they ask you different questions and essays. Some schools will ask for a portfolio of work—it depends what kind of school you’re going to. But the U of O [University of Oregon] accepted him based on his SAT scores and his description of what he had done and his involvement. And then he also had to audition.
TYG: I think that’s about it—thank you so much for your time!
Stacy: It was enjoyable—thanks!
Interview with Greg Scott
TYG: How was your trip to Iceland?
Greg: The trip to Iceland was very good! We spent about two weeks, and most of the time was spent wandering around the island with a guide. We concentrated mostly on the northwest corner and the south coast. That gave us a good opportunity to see the different geology, the different landscapes, the different animals—like birds, and horses, and sheep …
TYG: Really? Horses all the way up there? Sheep, I can see why….
Greg: Yep. Icelandic Horses.
TYG: Must be pretty hardy.
Greg: They are... Horses were introduced into Iceland about 800 A.D….
TYG: That long ago? Probably by the Vikings.
Greg: The Vikings. And the island was very… well, things don’t grow there very well, it’s very cold, the winters are very long, and so getting things to grow, living was very hard, especially with volcanoes going off…. But surprisingly enough, most of the eruptions are not that… not as violent, as, say, Mount St. Helens….
TYG: You know, just the heat of the volcanoes might be a lifesaver for them….
Greg: Well actually, what the heat of the volcanoes ends up doing is melting the glaciers, and causing massive flooding. So when it happens on a glacier, it’s pretty devastating.
TYG: When it happens on a glacier. But say it happens outside of a glacier….
Greg: Well, it turns out that the volcanoes that are most active are fairly high, and that’s where snow tends to accumulate, so that’s where the glaciers are.
TYG: What I mean is, say, a less active volcano down lower—it’s still warm, and, like, it doesn’t erupt nearly as often. But it’s still warm…
Greg: When volcanoes go off, they put out a lot of sulfur dioxide, a lot of soot….
TYG: Yeah. Here’s why that could be a lifesaver: they also put out really, really rich soil.
Greg: Well, it takes thousands of years for that soil to develop. When it first comes out, it’s in the form of rock. Magma.
TYG: Still—for the less active volcanoes, it’s probably been about a few thousand years since it last erupted.
Greg: Ah, they’re about 20 million years old.
TYG: So these soils have had plenty of time to accumulate.
Greg: Well, actually, soils are pretty thin.
Greg: Yeah. When the floods happen, the soils get washed out to sea.
TYG: I guess so.
Greg: The pictures that I saw of some of the flooding were—devastating. Devastating. All the lighter material gets flushed out first. What’s left is the heavier rock. So—it was a good trip though. I learned a lot.
TYG: How did you become interested in photography?
Greg: Well, I actually started taking pictures pretty actively in 1969. When I was in Vietnam, I got a camera, actually my first 35mm camera. But in those days, the medium was all film, and so it was more expensive. When digital came out….
TYG: That was when you really got started?
Greg: Well, actually, I guess a better answer to your question—[it] was when I went to Africa in 1997. That was a big deal, the first time I’d ever been to Africa. I bought a 35mm for that trip—it was still film—and I took a lot of pictures. That’s probably the start of my more recent interest.
TYG: I see.
Greg: Photography is a form of creative outlet that marries technology with artistic abilities. So for somebody like me, it’s easier for me to sort of get an in, because I’m interested in the technology of photography, how it works…. I’ve learned, by working with other people, teachers, the artistic side. That was a big part of Iceland—learning composition, how to approach a photographic opportunity.
TYG: Why did you move to Yachats?
Greg: Um, the simple answer is, we lived in a small town in the valley, and when the population got close to 50,000, we [felt] that the sense of community that comes from living in a small town was gone. You didn’t really know who your neighbors were. […] So we came to Yachats looking for…
TYG: … The small town feel.
Greg: A sense of community.
TYG: How did you become a [city councilor]?
Greg: I sat on the Planning Commission for, I think, about four years. That kind of gave me an introduction to the Yachats planning process. After about four years, I felt I was ready to move to a different job. I ran for election, and I’ve been on the City Council now for about… seven years.
TYG: So how long do you stay on the Council per election?
Greg: Four years.
TYG: So you’re in your second election term.
TYG: How many terms can you have?
Greg: Uh, I don’t know the limit.
TYG: What do you do as a City Council member?
Greg: That’s actually a pretty good question. Councilors deal with city policy, finances, communications… we’re the conduit to the public, who talk about what’s happening and why. And also pass legislation. So—policy, legislation, finances, communication. That’s chiefly what a councilor does. But there’s another facet that’s maybe not quite so obvious, and that is— I personally believe that every elected official is an ambassador to the community. So—to represent the community to visitors, people who want to know about Yachats—part of our job is essentially to communicate who we are and what we’re all about.
TYG: I see. Why did you choose to become a City Council member?
Greg: I wanted to make a difference. One of my areas of interest is in transparency in government… to make the work of government more visible to the public. So one of the first things I did on the council was to convince the rest of the council to build a document library. The document library houses all the public documents that the city has issued or collected since the year 2000. So if somebody wants to know what happened in a meeting, or to look up a plan, all the information is in the document library, and it’s up on the web.
TYG: Is that document library physical, or is it purely on line?
Greg: It’s virtual. The city has all the original documents filed away, but they’re not accessible—they’re stored at the sewer plant. Boxes in a room upstairs.
TYG: Why do you hang out at the Green Salmon every day they’re open?
Greg: Well, I like the lunches here, and it’s kind of the community living room. The seating is very informal, so people can move around in groups, and you can linger. In a restaurant, there’s a sense that you need to vacate the space and make it available to somebody else, but that’s not true here. And the network is available, there’s power here, you can plug in and work on something….
TYG: That is, when the power’s ON. [This interview was conducted on a stormy day at the Green Salmon during a power outage.]
Greg: Well, it’s usually on. Very rarely does it go off. The tea’s pretty good. It’s a very friendly place. I mean, why do you come here?
TYG: Primarily it’s for the food, and for the chess.
Greg: Okay, so there you go. It’s not the only place I go—I go to Bread and Roses, I go to the Drift Inn…
TYG: When do you go to Bread and Roses?
Greg: When this place is closed, I go there. Her black bean soup is very, very good. And her breads are very good. My eating interests are fairly narrow.
TYG: Me too. I only eat about twenty total foods.
Greg: Well, you might be a little more narrow than me, then.
TYG: Thank you so much for your time!
Interview with Chuck Hill of Waldport Video
TYG: Why did you open the video store?
Chuck: I saw a need for video rentals as a business and I came to Waldport, and opened a store in 1984.
TYG: What kind of movies you have?
Chuck: I have a wide assortment of movies, I have foreign movies, and specialty movies, and all the popular new ones, and a great bunch of good old ones.
TYG: Where is your store located?
Chuck: Downtown Waldport, on 520 Commercial St.
TYG: When did you acquire your amazing collection of Star Trek movies?
Chuck: I picked those up as they were released to VHS, and then I picked them up as they were released to DVD, no particular date I just don’t remember that far back.
TYG: How does your store operate?
Chuck: I’m open from 10 to 8, every day of the year except Christmas and Thanksgiving.
TYG: Where did you live before Waldport?
Chuck: I lived in a little community called Burnt Woods out on Highway 20. I ran a café there for 10 years and rented movies like everybody else, and somebody bought the business from me and I moved to Waldport.
TYG: What kind of life did you have before you opened the video store?
Chuck: About the same as here, a “noon to life job”, and I like living that way.
TYG: Do you have any friends or family in Waldport?
Chuck: There’s Kelly who sometimes helps me here, she has a little family of her own, with kids and a husband. And the lady Jeannette who used to work here but now lives in Bend.
TYG: Anything else you would like to talk about?
Chuck: Not that I can think of.
TYG-Editorial Assistant: What do like about this business?
Chuck: What I like about this business is keeping people happy by getting them to watch movies, and as you can see I’m an entertainer. I’m a goofball, and [I like] to have fun!
TYG-EA: What do you do when you’re not here?
Chuck: I’m not not here. I live upstairs. I sit and watch movies and make socks while I’m up there.
TYG-EA: Where are you from originally?
Chuck: I was born in New Mexico and was raised in the Seattle area. I have a brother and three sisters.
TYG-EA: What brought you out to this part of the world?
Chuck: Specifically I came to Waldport to open the video store.
TYG-EA: Was there a business here before you that you were able to purchase?
Chuck: I came to town and found a rental space, and bought some VHS movies from a video store, I then went home and had the task of selling my café.
TYG-EA: I get the feeling that this is more than just a place to rent movies for a lot of people in town.
Chuck: It is often been a hangout for different types of people, I used to have a big group of young teenagers, but now all I have is old codgers.
TYG-EA: I think this is kind of a moral center for the community.
Chuck: And I can do that by renting movies, and by just listening.
TYG-EA: It seems like people talk to you.
Chuck: I try to say the right things, but the trickster in me sometimes suggests the wrong things.
TYG-EA: You mentioned what kind of art do you like to do?
Chuck: I like textile art, which is knitting, and fabric, and acrylic paints.
TYG-EA: Where did you get all these statues?
Chuck: People have just brought me those things. I guess it was more important for them to live here than at their house!
TYG-EA: What are some of your favorite movies?
Chuck: Tomorrow, Robert Duvall, and I like all the Star Trek movies.
TYG-EA: How do you keep track of the movies that go out?
Chuck: I’ve placed in alphabetical order so I can find them, and they’re listed on a piece of paper.
TYG-EA: About how many titles do you have?
Chuck: We have about 20,000 titles including VHS’s; VHS’s are three quarters of the total. The reason I don’t have very many DVDs is because it took me 25 years to collect the VHS’s and I haven’t been at the DVD’s as long.
TYG-EA: What is up with all the CHILL paintings?
Chuck: The CHILL is how I sign my name, for Chuck Hill.
Chuck: My father signed his name: BHILL, and everyone started calling him Bill, apparently they didn’t see the H in there. And my family calls me Pat; I don’t like that name. But I didn’t sign my name Bill, I sign Chill, because it’s better.