After half a century in Sweet Home, Santiam Drug closes

Sean C. Morgan

Santiam Drug store closed Dec. 14 after serving the Sweet Home community for 52 years.

Manager Connie Moyer spent the past 42 years working there, as store manager since 1987.

Santiam Drug was opened by Don Wolfe in 1966 as a variety store, Moyer said. Wolfe operated the store as a branch of Cash King Liquidators after Moyer took over as manager; the chain eventually included nine stores. Wolfe’s son, Mike Wolfe, took over after he retired.

Currently, Cash King owners have three stores in the Eugene-Springfield area and one in Reedsport.

Santiam Drug went through numerous changes since it opened, Moyer said. “Back then we had a stereo department. They’ve sold real estate. We made t-shirts and sold clothes in here. Way back in ’66, there was a restaurant.”

The store also included a pharmacy, which moved to Safeway.

People still tell Moyer they remember buying a stereo there, she said, and she still has a radar detector installed at the store.

The closure is bittersweet for Moyer after more than four decades working there.

“They say all good things come to an end. I’m ready to be done. I’m OK with it. I’m ready to retire and be done.”

She will spend time with her twin 4-year-old grandchildren, take care of her father and enjoy life doing whatever she wants to do, she said.

It won’t be so weird at first, she said. “I’ll be off a week.”

That will be like a vacation, she said. She’s never taken more than 10 days off at a time in the past. By the second week, it will feel like a long-awaited extended vacation. After that, retirement will sink in, but she has plenty to do.

“They have been wonderful to me,” Moyer said. “When I started here at 15 years old, I never imagined working here this long.”

Whatever she needed to do as she raised her family, the owners allowed her to do it, she said.

“They treated me well. They’re honestly like family.”

The store employed seven people when it closed, Moyer said. It has employed more than 20 in the past.

The decision to close came after construction of the new Dollar Tree began, Moyer said. Dollar General didn’t affect business much.

“People thought Dollar General was a dollar store,” she said. “We were fine – until I had a city councilor ask me if I heard about the Dollar Tree coming in. We can’t compete with them.”

A Dollar General and Dollar Tree went in at Reedsport, and it’s significantly impacted that location’s business.

“It affects your purchasing,” Moyer said. Suppliers prefer making larger sales to the bigger stores. “When you’re looking at box stores, they kill us little stores.”

Moyer said her 31-year-old daughter, Alicia Moyer, has been there all her life. Alicia’s been working at Santiam Drug for 17 years and was assistant manager when the store closed.

Remaining staff members at the time of closure were Trista Forquer, who spent more than five years there; her mother, Jennifer Forquer, more than four years; Sally Jones, six years off and on; Jaime Rooney, three years; and Rise Stutzman, two years.