We drive along the two-lane highway heading north up the Peninsula. No more than 10 minutes pass and we see it. It’s huge! Just as the urban tales described it. Jack’s Country Store takes up a whole city block starting at the main intersection, well really the only 4-way intersection in this small, seaside town of Ocean Park.
A sign in the window tells it like it is: “An Old Store. Lots of Stuff”. Both of which have made this retail store infamous, at least around these parts.(Image: Richard Schmitz)
Jack’s Country Store has been serving this community since 1885, making it the longest-running retail establishment in the state of Washington. With this kind of longevity also comes a rather colorful history.
Founded by J.A. Morehead and Co., the business changed hands a few times to varied owners. The first sale was to Mr. Trondsen & Sons in 1915, where it stayed in the family until 1956 when it became Henrichsen’s Grocery. Then finally its last incarnation began in 1969 as Jack & Lucille Downer purchased the store, and it’s still being run by the Downer family today. They’ve placed signs paying homage to these past owners inside the original section of the hardware store, gently reminding shoppers of its history and original inception.Henrichsen’s Grocery Sign (Image: Richard Schmitz)
Back in those first days the Downers took ownership, Ocean Park was a very different place. Primarily a commercial fishing town, the economy largely focused on its clamming and oyster industry. Today, fishing is still king for this small town and Jack’s is right there supplying all the necessary clamming, fishing, and oyster catching supplies any weekend DIYer needs to make that big catch.
Over the last 50 years, Jack’s grew with the times and with the town. Change became a constant process. During their first year of ownership, the Downer’s added on to the existing storefront, almost doubling the square footage. Up until then, indoor plumbing was nonexistent so this was added, along with hot running water and a new electrical system. Eventually, the Downer’s purchased even more real estate – allowing Jack’s to grow to its current 25,000 square feet size (most of this is a dedicated sales floor).(Image: Richard Schmitz)
And the Downer’s continued keeping up with modernization….