By Jessica R. Wheeler
Ownership of the Wasco Market changes hands this week, marking the end of an era for retiring owner Gary Hayden and his wife Debbie Hayden.
Hayden has been owner and operator of the town’s only market since 1986, but the store’s history goes back much further – at least 110 years, he said, making it arguably the longest-running brick-and-mortar business in the town of Wasco.
Hayden believes the early owners of the market were the Richelderfer and VanGilder families. Sitting atop the liquor display is a framed photo from 1910, showing three young men working the store, complete with hanging cow hide and butcher shop. The iconic original scale that sits on display at the current market is pictured in this 1910 photo.
Antique coffee cans and vintage memorabilia are peppered throughout the market, which also features a grocery section, beer and liquor selection, and a butcher counter with everything from raw steaks to sliced sandwich meats.
New owners Michelle and Travis Lawrence say they are excited for the future of the market and have some big ideas going forward. They also own the structures next door to the market, including the former gift shop and cafe that was destroyed by fire in August 2017. That building has sat empty ever since, with the storefront boarded up, as plans are made to address the caved-in roof that resulted from the fire.
“We do have plans to put a roof on it and make it usable again, and we most definitively would love to expand into there from the store, that would allow us to carry some specialty items and local food items,” Michelle Lawrence said in an email interview.
On the grocery side, she said they are looking forward to getting in there to spruce things up. They have plans to fix up the interior space a bit, as well as the storefront, and they hope to soon expand into offering made-to-order deli sandwiches, salads and soups, fountain drinks, and more.
The store will remain a licensed OLCC liquor store and will continue with custom meat-cutting services. Michelle Lawrence said there are no plans to close the market for an extended period, adding that renovations and repairs will likely be done in the store’s off-hours.
The couple has lived in Sherman County almost 15 years, and Travis Lawrence has deep family ties to the community. His mother Linda Cornie (VanGilder) served as county clerk for nearly 30 years.
“We will hopefully get to see her smiling face quite often in the store, and I know she’s just as excited for this adventure as we are,” Michelle Lawrence said. “That store is a true blessing for our community, and it was nice that Gary and Debbie provided such a valuable service. Travis and I hope to do the same.”
Hayden said he will miss the market, but he’s looking forward to retirement.
“I want to thank the community, they’ve all supported me well,” he said.