Jerry’s Color Center in Centralia Closes Up Shop

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When Connie Scherer and her late husband, Jerry Scherer, bought what is now called “Jerry’s Color Center” in 1980, Connie had never run a business. Looking back, though, she said her biggest surprise was how easy it was.

“It’s only as difficult as you make it,” Scherer said. “We kept very good hours. Some business owners, they just are there all the time. We decided we had a family, we were going to be home for dinner and sports. If a contractor needed something, he would always come in. If he was home, he would drive back in and get them what they needed. But pretty much, we only opened half a day on Saturdays. We were able to continue with good family life.”

The couple ran the business together for nearly 20 years. Then in 1999, they both retired — mostly because Connie didn’t want to work with computers. 

When asked if she ever got tired of working with her husband, Connie said, “Let’s put it this way — the Good Lord knew what he was doing. I was still a nurse just down the street. It was really handy to pop in and do the books and things. I had Wednesdays off so I could come in. But I think the Good Lord knew if we worked together 24/7 that it probably wouldn’t be the best thing in the world.”

When Connie and Jerry opened up shop, they bought what was previously Pittsburgh Paints. 

“They had all been company stores and they decided to sell them to private parties,” Connie said. “I think there were nine interested parties and after interviews and such, they selected us. We were really grateful that they did.”

The two continued carrying Pittsburgh Paints, which Connie used when she painted the pair’s rental homes. The store name, however, they changed to “Jerry’s Color Center.” Jerry died eight years ago, but Connie said people remember him for his honesty in conducting business.

“He was a born entrepreneur,” Scherer said. “He just had good business sense and he was so honest. Everybody in the community at his memorial, it was huge, people really impressed upon that — of his honesty in business.”

Although Jerry had experience in business — he began working at Centralia Automotive straight out of high school and later managed the store — Connie did not. Connie was a nurse who learned to keep books for their business without any prior training.

“I had nothing,” Scherer said. “Back then you did everything by hand. This was before computers. Having gone to nursing school I’m no slouch, so I could do it. Did I ever really like doing it? No. But I kept the books so we didn’t have to hire a bookkeeper.”

Connie said Centralia College offered a program at the time where retired businessmen came to businesses for no cost to help people set up their books.

“It was really valuable,” she said.

In 1992, the couple moved Jerry’s Color Center from 111 N. Tower Ave. to Grand Avenue. When the two retired, Jack Besaw bought the business and leased the building from the Scherers. He later opened a second location in Yelm, which will remain open.

“He is also an ambitious man,” Scherer said of Besaw. “He has a painting business as a contractor and he told me last year he was working towards retirement. So he is keeping the one in Yelm and his painting business.”

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