Finding a niche: New business owners put dreams into action

July 2015 Posted in Business

By Brenna Wiegand

The arts, interesting food and cool coffee shops – sounds like Silverton. Looks like Silverton’s newest business owners are on the right track.

White Oak Art, Unique Items & More

Since Lori and Terry McLaughlin opened White Oak, they have marveled at their welcome. It’s affirming in their choice to combine their passions and share the things they love with others.

“I love art and I have friends in the area who are artists,” Lori said. “We’re all somewhat like-minded, which gives the store a nice feeling altogether.”

Terry’s an athlete who loves reading, and the store spotlights local authors.

Lori is a mixed media artist. She teaches art at Chemeketa Community College; Terry just retired from there as a physical ed instructor.

“We’re both teachers; we both enjoy our passions and I look at the store as a way to expose other artists to the Silverton public and teach people about what we have here,” Lori said. “There’s something about Silverton; it has a great artistic vibe.

“Artists, including myself, like to create but my husband and I share the responsibilities of running the store and it’s good for us because it gets us out with people and we learn about them.”

White Oak Gallery
215 E Main St.,

Sandee Thai

Wanting to return to their small-town roots, Ken and Aee Wetzel sold a successful restaurant in Tigard and found the right home in Silverton, purchasing the former City Thai and renaming it Sandee Thai.

“Sandee means ‘so good,’” Ken said; “‘Life is so good.’”

Aee didn’t enter the restaurant trade until shortly after coming to the US in 2006, but she has cooked all her life.

“She came from a small village without refrigeration, so they shop every day and everything’s fresh,” Ken said. “We have refrigeration so we shop a little less, but still everything’s new and fresh.”

The menu’s a little different; mainly a few specials and alterations to the lunch menu.

“All of Aee’s soups are really good – tom kah; tom yum – I’ve had people tell me it’s the best food they’ve ever eaten,” Ken said. “She pays close attention to each thing she does; we get a lot of compliments.”

Sandee Thai
211 Oak St.

Gear-Up Coffee

At first it was kind of a pie-in-the-sky joke between Andy and Rachael Stutzman and their friends Aaron and Luci Miller. Kurt and Summer Barnes were closing Gear-Up Coffee.

Though the Millers were in Scotland setting up a Young Life camp, Luci, Andy and Rachael have been “Young Lifers” together and the coffee shop has been a meeting place for Campaigners, a teen Bible study associated with the Christian organization.

“We loved this place and didn’t want to let it go,” Andy said. From Scotland Luci jokingly texted, ‘Hey we should buy Gear-Up.’

After lots of prayers and consideration, they did just that.

“It’s busier at times than I thought it’d be,” Andy said. “We were hoping we could get away with one person working at a time but now we’re finding out that’s not going to be the case.”

Rachael’s been a stay at home mom for 13 years; Lucy, their youngest, is just finishing kindergarten. Regulars have been welcoming and accepting of the changes, Rachael said. Using the same blend and pricing as before, the coffee has also received a thumbs-up from the clientele.

“Our biggest goal is to run it like Kurt and Summer did. We want this to be a comfortable place for all ages,” Andy said. “There are a lot of youth that come in for Young Life and we want to keep supporting those events.”

430 McClaine St.

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