New Lake Pleasant Grocery co-owners Kris and Tom Hull. (Zorina Barker/for Peninsula Daily News)

WEST END NEIGHBOR: Cornerstone store turns a page

RIGGS IS THE only regular shoplifter.

He is crafty and cute and hard to stop.

The last time he got busted after sneaking in, he grabbed a Twinkie and a bag of chips as he ran out of the store.

Another time he had such a big haul he had a hard time getting out the front door.

Kris and Tom Hull, the new managers of Lake Pleasant Grocery, just laugh about the thievery of this canine, who lives nearby.

They have no intention of calling the police.

Rather, Riggs’ owners call the store and want to know why their beagle keeps getting fed.

So it goes in the tiny West End village of Beaver, about a quarter mile southwest of Lake Pleasant, where the Hulls are the new managers and co-owners of Lake Pleasant Grocery, the only store in town.

“As far as we know, the store was built in 1938,” Kris said.

There had been a few families running the grocery before her mom and dad bought the business in 1979.

“The store is ingrained in me and so it’s not much of a job,” Kris said.

“It’s just comfortable.”

She recalls long hours as a girl, hanging out and reading books while she waited for her dad, Richard Miller, to close in the evenings.

Fast forward to January 2017 when Kris’ mom, Margaret, abruptly called and said she and her husband, Clell Henson, were wanted out immediately.

The Hensons are in their 70s and the time had come to retire.

Everyone in these parts knows Clell from his time manning the register.

Tom said Clell took only two half-days off a week “and that was to go home and do ‘honey-do’ stuff.”

Tom works for Double L Timber of Port Angeles as a full-time feller-buncher operator, so the big majority of store duties goes to Kris.

“I find running the store is a wonderful challenge and I love the people,” Kris said.

“It gives my wife a purpose to keep a legacy alive,” Tom added.

The Hulls hope their kids, Megan, 17, and Jacob, 15, both of whom attend Clallam Bay High School, will continue the family business.

The grocery on U.S. Highway 101 is the first retail business drivers see as they slow from 60 to 50 mph when driving westbound from Lake Crescent.

The two buildings to the west of the store are the Beaver Post Office and the Beaver Fire Station.

That sums up the business district of this small town.

Lake Crescent Grocery is more than just a place to buy food.

Complete strangers have long discussions about hunting and fishing without ever knowing each others’ names.

Bicycles, sedans, quads and log trucks share the parking lot on any given day.

Seven days a week, the store’s coffee klatch gathers, sometimes swelling to more than 20 gentlemen dressed in hickory shirts and riggings, rough hands holding coffee cups while outside their trucks fill the parking lot.

Logging is most definitely spoken here.

The wood floors testify to almost 100 years of caulk boots.

The Hulls are proud to run a “non-branded, non-ethanol Mom and Pop store,” Tom said.

However, Kris has a vision much like her business-minded father: She wants to provide what her customers want.

She carries nostalgic items such as inexpensive candy and ice cream for the local kids, fishing tackle for Lake Pleasant and even a single roll of film.

She also brought in a larger selection of microbrews and hopes to soon host a small farmers market.

The Hulls’ regular employee, Jamie Loushin, also a volunteer firefighter based out of the fire station down the road, has perfected the baked chicken recipe.

Customers call in orders for the chicken, not wanting to bank on anything being left in the hot case.

_________

Zorina Barker lives in the Sol Duc Valley with her husband, a logger, and two children she home-schools.

Submit items and ideas for the column to her at zorina [email protected], or phone her at 360-327-3702. West End Neighbor appears in the PDN every other Tuesday.

Her next column will be May 30.

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