Bayview Cash Store thriving on fifth anniversary

It seems like only yesterday. But it’s been five years since the renovation and rededication of the historic Bayview Cash Store at Bayview Corner.

A postcard from the 1930s shows long-time owner Harold Johnston standing at the entrance of his Bayview Cash Store.

It seems like only yesterday.

But it’s been five years since the renovation and rededication of the historic Bayview Cash Store at Bayview Corner.

As a way of giving new life to an aging structure while preserving key architectural elements, Goosefoot, a local nonprofit organization, purchased the ailing Cash Store and surrounding grounds in 1999.

“The spot has evolved over the years,” said chief operations officer Debbie Torget. “In that year it was a dilapidated, old-fashioned building that needed a lot of work.”

The store has retained a special place in the hearts of locals who grew up on the island. Harold Johnston was just 29 when he bought the Cash Store in 1930. For more than 35 years Harold and his wife Betsy, their children and grandchildren, worked and played in the store.

Johnston’s granddaughter, Diane, recalled what it was like in the 1950s.

“The store always had a cozy, family atmosphere,” she said. “There was a 50-pound sack of brown sugar behind the counter; grandfather would measure out a pound at a time for customers but whenever I went by, I stuck my hand in. There were always lumps.”

On very hot days, the soda chest filled with ice near the old-fashioned gasoline pumps was always popular. “Even today,

I can recall the feeling of reaching in and getting a bottle out,” Johnston said.

Her grandfather maintained an old roll-top desk next to a small stove in the family’s living quarters.

Inside the desk could be found his crude but effective and user-friendly credit system.

“All the receipts were hand-written and he made sure that people who needed groceries were helped whenever he had the means to do so,” Johnston said. “He genuinely knew and cared about the community.”

The building changed hands over the years, and when the building owner put the property up for sale, existing businesses were in jeopardy.

“For the locals, Bayview was a workingman’s crossroads and local folks felt at home here,” Torget said.

The organization felt that saving the historic commercial building for future generations was worth the effort. Today, the Cash Store works to help local businesses, artists and craftspeople succeed.

“It had served a diversity of needs over the decades and now was embarking on a new path designed to take the building and grounds into the new century,” Torget said.

“The generosity of Nancy Nordhoff made it all happen.”

With financing from local philanthropist Nordhoff, Goosefoot spent several years cleaning up and renovating not only the Cash Store, but also its grounds, Torget explained.

An old garage was transformed into a comfortable retail spot, while the requirement for public restrooms became a chance to create a model composting toilet facility. The Bayview Farmers Market, held each Saturday in the Cash Store parking lot, was taken into account when landscaping the grounds and adding additional parking space. Wandering paths lined with native plants, lawns for people to eat a family picnic and a recreated storm water pond soon transformed an empty, unattractive outdoor space.

The Cash Store, however, remained the heart and soul of the Goosefoot enterprise. Dedicated to sustainable building methods, the organization’s construction crew, all local craftspeople and laborers, used recycled materials wherever possible. Redwood boards from an old water tower became doors, doorframes and wainscoting. Metal rods that held the water tower together became railings, door pulls and handrails.

Their were challenges along the way, including reworking older sections of the building and dealing with long-buried gasoline storage tanks.

“For 85 years, the Cash Store has been a work in progress, flexible enough to withstand many economic ups and downs, but always at the heart of this community,” said Goosefoot’s chief executive officer Chis Hurley. “Goosefoot is very proud to be a part of the history of this great institution.”

The Cash Store is home to 10 businesses and two nonprofits, including a pan-Asian fusion restaurant, coffee bar, hair salon, natural foods grocery and deli, the South End’s only bike shop, fine art printing studio and the South Whidbey Record. An art gallery features and sells the work of noted local and regional artists.

As a celebration of the Cash Store’s continued success, Goosefoot invites the community to participate in several special events during the year.

“We are grateful to the corporate sponsors who have made these anniversary events possible, including Davis Industries, The Myers Group, Red Barn Millworks, The South Whidbey Record and Whidbey Island Bank,” Torget said.

Until March 29, the Cash Store’s “Hub” will display nostalgic photos from a by-gone era.

From April 1 to April 30, the store hosts a food drive for Good Cheer Food Bank, the only one of its kind on South Whidbey.

From June 5 through June 13, more than 25 artists will create original works of art. On Saturday, June 13, the artwork will be auctioned off in a fundraiser for Goosefoot.

The Bayview Cash Store is located at 5603 Bayview Road, just north of Highway 525. For more information, call 321-4145 or visit www.goosefoot.org.

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