Neighborly hub: Silver Falls Country Store a step back in time

October 2015 Posted in Business
Silver Falls Country Store owners Dan Barker and Junay Johanson and their children, Hunter and Paisley, enjoy the pace of life in the “Hills.”

Silver Falls Country Store owners Dan Barker and Junay Johanson and their children, Hunter and Paisley, enjoy the pace of life in the “Hills.”

By Steve Ritchie

When you walk into the Silver Falls Country Store, it feels like you are stepping back a few decades.

If you linger, that feeling grows. The scuffed wood floors, rustic beer coolers, eclectic merchandise and friendly faces are like a living history roadside stop.

First impression: this small store at 172 Silver Falls Drive – about five miles from the Silver Falls North Falls parking lot – feels more like the “general store” of a bygone era than it does a mini-mart or convenience store.

Owners Dan Barker and Junay Johanson have stocked it with a little bit of everything that one might need, especially hikers, hunters and campers.

There also are unique items like the obsidian knives hand-crafted by “flintknapper” Bill Stoddard, who makes a variety of tools from obsidian. Plus there’s also plenty of local food products like Silver Falls Coffee, and local honeys, jams and jellies.

Second impression: Nearly everyone who walks through the door here is greeted by name, and Barker and Johanson slow down and engage in some friendly banter.

It doesn’t take long to realize the Silver Falls Country Store is the hub of this rural community, known variously as Drake’s Crossing, Silver Crest, Silverton Hills, or simply, the Hills.

Barker said there are about 1,200 people who live along the highway from the Silverton Reservoir to Silver Falls State Park, and a good number frequent the store, which is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. on weekends.

The experience of being a part of a community is what Barker and Johanson were looking for when they moved to the area five years ago from Salem.

In March 2014 the couple reopened the Silver Falls Country Store, which had been closed for a year. During the summer, the store hosted well-attended community potluck dinners.

“It’s a great farming community,” Johanson said. “People are definitely trying to get back to doing for their neighbors. In town you don’t even know the people who live in the apartment above you. But here you know people who live down the hill toward town and all the way up to the Falls. The definition of ‘neighbor’ changes when you move to a small community . . . We have people up here that will do just about anything for you.”

In addition to their desire for community, Barker and Johanson were looking for property where they could grow Christmas trees.

Barker had been working as a foreman on a Christmas tree farm near Philomath while Johanson was a juvenile corrections officer.

They now have 20 acres of Christmas trees, which they harvest to sell at a lot in Ventura, Calif., and a large garden.

Barker and Johanson also hoped to raise their son, Hunter, who has now been joined by his 3 1/2- month-old sister, Paisley, in the country.

A sixth-grader at Silver Crest School, Hunter helps out at the store, which he says keeps him from getting bored.

“He helps out a lot,” his dad said. “It’s amazing how much he helps out here, especially with the new baby. He pretty much does everything that we do, he’s right there with us – stocking the shelves, working the counter.”

The store has gained a reputation for great food in an area which has no other restaurants except at the park.

The Sasquatch Burger, advertised on the big yellow sign in front of the store, brings in a lot of curious and hungry people.

They have both indoor and outside seating for food customers, and will soon be serving tap beers and doing growler fills.

“Probably what we’re known most for is our food,” Barker said. “The Sasquatch Burger is a good, big burger that people come in for. But we’ve got a lot of people who come in for lunch and dinner who enjoy all the different items – we’ve got a lot of burgers.”

Sasquatch is also more than a burger at the Silver Falls Country Store.

Barker and Johanson have a journal in which people write down their Bigfoot story. The book even contains some drawings of what folks claim to have seen, and hand-drawn maps of where encounters have reportedly occurred.

“We’ve had quite a few people from the Bigfoot community that have come up just to read the book because a lot of the stories weren’t reported,” Johanson said. “A lot of them are really interesting. Pretty fun.”

Barker and Johanson think once a visitor stops by, they will want to return.

“It’s stepping back in time to the good things from the past,” Barker said.

“It’s stepping back to the family-oriented business, and the community-oriented feel with everybody. It’s really neat. I couldn’t imagine going back to the city.”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.