Citizens happy their grocery and deli are open again

The American flag is flying outside, the red “open” sign glows from the front window and the aroma of fresh-baked bread, cookies, cakes, pies and homemade soup fill the air as you open the door to the recently re-opened Gales Creek Country Store and Deli.

A banner out front announces the establishment has new owners: “Come in for a free cup of coffee and a friendly visit,” it reads. Inside you will be greeted by smiles and a warm welcome from Crescenciano (Chano) Zamudio and Amy Stuck Zamudio, the new owners and operators of the store and deli.

The Zamudios purchased the building on Northwest Gales Creek Road and moved in Oct. 1, 2011, with their children Cameo, Joshua, Joseph, Christian, Caino and Floyd.

The dream of someday owning the Gales Creek Store was sparked eight years ago when Chano and Amy and their family lived on Amy’s grandparents’ nearby farm and passed the store on a regular basis. They even took pictures inside and of some of the children standing in front of the store.

When the family finally moved into the former Gales Creek Country Store and living quarters, the store’s interior had been completely gutted, including the electric wiring, which meant in order to open as a store, everything had to be replaced and brought up to code. Countless hours and major improvements have been made to the building — both exterior and interior. A new roof, insulation, gutters, trim and interior painting, new counter tops, tiling, new electric wiring, lights, kitchen improvements and much more have been added.

Since the 1880s — more than 130 years — the Gales Creek community has had a grocery store, beginning with two large general stores. One was owned by the Sargent family and the other by Nick Lilly. At one time there were three grocery stores. The present store building was built in the early 1930s by Ed Cox and was owned and operated by Louie and Mabel Fraer.

Over the years the store has had many owners, with few changes to the exterior or interior. The floors still show the wear of loggers entering the building wearing their caulk boots.

Bringing back the feeling

The Zamudios say they want to bring back the old Country Store feeling, stocking what people need and also having consignments.

When Eva Sargent, longtime postmistress of the Gales Creek Post Office, was no longer able to operate the post office out of her home, it was moved — on March 1, 1978 — to the Gales Creek Store, where it remained until the U. S. Postal System closed it on Oct. 28, 2008, ending 134 years of postal service, which began Sept. 10, 1858, just one year before the Gales Creek School opened in 1859.

The store closed in early 2010. Both closures created hardships for area residents, requiring a 14- to 20-mile round trip for postal business and groceries. The closure of Gales Creek Elementary School in June 2011 was the final blow, taking away the heart of the community.

Jars of penny candy and 5-cent candy bars no longer line a shelf at the country store; however, that memory lives on in the minds of fourth- and fifth-generation descendants of early pioneers and some 80- and 90-year-olds.

Amy remembers stopping at the store after her dad had spent the day cutting wood at her grandparents’ farm on summer afternoons. Their treat, purchased at the store, was jerky and soda pop.

Countless hours

The interior is bright and cheery with some antiques, historic pictures and memorabilia lining the walls. The deli can seat 20 people and the Zamudios take great care to prepare tasty food.

Amy is grateful to her husband for the countless hours he has worked to restore the building, making their dream of owning the store a reality.

They both marvel at the support many in the community have given them, and look forward to participating in events that keep the Gales Creek Community alive: the annual Strawberry Festival in June, Neighborhood Watch/National Night Out in August, the Holiday Bazaar in December and twice-monthly gym and library nights at the school for area children and former students.

Contract Publishing

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