One of Wendi Scott’s favorite items in the Adna Grocery store are two rocking chairs at the front of the shop.
No, they’re not for sale. They’re for sitting.
“I want this to be a place where people come in and relax and visit,” said Scott, who purchased the historic Lewis County grocery nearly one year ago. “It’s homey and personable and that’s cool because that’s what the town is.”
Scott said becoming the owner of the Adna Grocery was not in her original career plans, but that it came about through her deep love for her hometown. Scott graduated from Adna High School and has a lot of family that live in Adna. As an adult, she had been living elsewhere in Washington working as a contractor for Bonneville Power. She said she was not living in the area several years ago when the Adna store began to decline but she heard stories from her family still living there.
Scott moved back to the area a couple years ago to become an active participant in the care of her mother, who is living with dementia. At that time, Adna Grocery had been purchased by Randy and Teresa Kempf, who had made numerous upgrades to the property and were bringing the historic store back to life. Scott began working at Adna Grocery and in the spring of 2018, Teresa Kempf told her she was going to sell the business.
“I freaked out because I didn’t want to see it go downhill again,” Scott said of what motivated her to make an offer on the business. “Was I expecting it? No. But did I always have ideas for the store and the community in general? Yes.”
Scott said adding ownership of the Adna Grocery to her already full schedule as a single mother to her 3-year-old daughter, Winter, and caregiver for her mother was not without its challenges. But she said being part of the legacy of the business within the Adna community has motivated her to keep going. The building off Bunker Creek, just a stone’s throw from Highway 6, has housed a grocery store in Adna since the 1920s. It was once known as the A.F. Scherer Store and later its name was changed to Adna Grocery. Scott said one mystery she would like to solve about the building is the sign on the front that reads “Maplewood”.
“I’m going to have to do a little more research on that one,” she said.
Scott said she really wanted to continue the positive changes that the Kempfs had started by continuing to add new and needed items for her clientele. She has added both take-and-bake and ready-made pizzas. She also makes a weekly order for pies at the Mennonite-owned bake stand in Rochester. Customers can call in by Wednesday with their pie orders or stop by on Fridays to see the selection that Scott brings in. The store also hosts five local vendors selling everything from handmade gift items to custom clothing, which includes Adna Grocery gear. Scott also worked out a partnership with the Adna Booster Club to offer Adna Pirate gear at the store. This allowed the booster club to sell items outside school hours and allowed Scott to become more of a part of the community. This summer, Scott will also be running the concession stand at the local ball fields not far from the store.
During the summer months, Adna Grocery serves many tourists who are coming through headed for fishing and camping as well as many cyclists using the Willapa Hills Trail. But the majority of the store’s business is actually from local shoppers. Scott said many locals use the post office inside the building and she tries to cater her offerings to what her customers say they want and need. For example, she said offering fishing licenses is not really a money maker for her but it gives Adna residents an option other than driving into Chehalis.
“It’s not about what I want. I listen to the customers about what they want and what will keep them coming back,” Scott said. “I always tell people I’m up for requests any time because the biggest thing I want is to keep (the store) going.”
Scott said she also sees a great potential for the property when it comes to the youth of Adna. The store has groups of high school students who come in before school, many for energy drinks but still others for Scott’s biscuits and gravy, and a large crowd who gather there after school. She said she has many ideas for how she might expand to offer more to cater to young people but she is still trying to figure out exactly how she might do that.
“I grew up going to Shakey’s Pizza all the time and playing in the arcade and I think how cool would be it be to have an arcade or something like that for local kids because there’s not a lot around here,” Scott said.
In the future, Scott plans to expand the Adna Grocery’s indoor seating area as well as its baked goods and deli offerings. This summer, she plans to add locally-built picnic tables for an outdoor seating area and she hopes to eventually be able to add a trail down to Stearns Creek from the picnic area.
“I still have a lot of big ideas,” Scott said. “My dad calls me a dreamer and that’s OK, I can be a dreamer.”