By Erika Kar
The Mazama Store is the hub of Mazama. And their tagline of “A Little Bit of Everything Good” really does hold true. Need an avocado? Check. How about a mousetrap? Check. Looking for a beautiful gift for a friend? Check. What about some rosewater for an obscure recipe? Check. Your car needs oil? Check. A gorgeous blanket? Yes, check. And I haven’t even delved into the sweet or savory delights that tempt me every single time I’m in there.
What’s my point? Hold on, here it comes. There are some people who think that this magnificent beast of a store, which truly does have a little bit of everything good, just popped up, exactly as it is, out of nowhere in the middle of nowhere. I’m here to set the story straight thanks to Louise Stevens, the Mazama Community Club’s resident historian.
Louise begins the history by mentioning that the beginnings of the Mazama Store are a bit entangled with the Mazama Post Office (which, please do not get me started on why we do not have a post office any longer, yet Carlton does). The Mazama Post Office began in 1900 in Josh Cassal’s boarding house and was run by a woman named Minnie Tingley. Minnie and her second husband, Jack Stewart, eventually took over the post office in their home where she and her sister-in-law, Martha Stewart (no, not that one) ran it. Mail would come twice a week from Winthrop, by hack and horse in the summer and by sleigh in the winter.
In 1918, a fellow named Angus McLeod took over the post office and ran it for 10 years in his combination hotel, bar and boarding house — maybe giving inspiration for the tagline “ a little bit of everything good”?
In the late 1920s, Homer and Lucille Peters opened a provision post at the junction. At that time, it was located across the road from where the current store sits. The Peters then assumed responsibility for the post office. It must not have gone very well for the Peters, because a mysterious woman named “Mrs. Brawn” bought their store in 1930. Mrs. Brawn only lasted five years or so before selling the store to Wink and Gretchen Byram.
The Byrams owned the store until 1944, living in a room behind the shop. The war took its toll on the viability of the store, so Wink sold it to the Stookey brothers and moved to Twisp for a job at the Wagner Mill. Alas, the Stookey brothers didn’t seem to have much luck at running the store either and sold it a year into their ownership.
The next notable owners were Bill and Vi Pederson, who built a new store where the current one now stands. This old building was first moved near the Mazama Ranch House to be a bunkhouse, later was the site for Heenan’s Burnt Finger BBQ, and is now Merle Kirkley’s North Cascades Cycle Werks.
In 1977, Mary Milka and her husband, Steve, bought the store and renamed it the Mazama Trading Post. Then Jay Lucas, Jim Fisher and several other investors purchased it, owning it for a few years. In 1987, Kathy Grimmett took it over, but business was so bad that she was forced to take a job outside the valley to support herself and her son.
In 1990, Jeff Sandine, of Ballard Computer, bought the store. He tore down the existing building, hired Doug Potter to build a new building, and did away with the post office. Perhaps some local was ticked that Sandine nixed the post office, because on the day of the grand reopening, someone put a load of horse manure in the brand new toilets! It wasn’t me.
Next, Jen Gode and Scooter Rogers owned the store until 2007 when the LeDucs bought it. Three years later, they remodeled and added on, doubling the size and adding a commercial kitchen. The evolution of The Mazama Store has also included creating the gorgeous patio and the outside service area, which seems to just get better and better every year.
Louise Stevens is quick to thank Bob Spiwak, Doug Devin, Jay Lucas, Mary Sharman, Mary Milka, Sharon Sumpter of the Shafer Museum and Barry George of The Okanogan Historical Society for filling in gaps and making sense of the bits of history.