Woodland store preserves old-time ambiance
History seems to be repeating itself at the Woodland Cash Store.
"It’s been the name of it since 1926," said Robert Lowe, who decided to keep the name after leasing the building in September.
According to Lowe, the historical marker has served groceries, arts and crafts for 80 years. Lowe and his wife Carrie reopened the store just before New Years and are infusing the new with the old.
"It’s totally remodeled," Lowe said. "It’s kind of like stepping back in time a little bit. There’s a great old antique feel, a country feel."
The store serves a mixed purpose as a deli and convenience store while maintaining a classic hometown atmosphere. The Lowes serve items like sandwiches, hot dogs, hot fudge sundaes, banana splits, milkshakes, pizza, groceries and "camping knickknacks."
"We have 11 flavors of sodas," Lowe said, "with a soda jerk and an ice cream dipper. Two soda fountain heads come from the period of 1930."
With success of the venture, Lowe hopes to expand on what has already been a success in the past.
"Hopefully we’ll have room to expand and do some catering and birthdays," Lowe said. "We are trying to get people to see the space because it really is out of the past. It’s cool to go back to a style that Park City used to be about 20 years ago."
Lowe said the previous owner wanted to install soda fountain heads in the cabinets. The old-time sodas are what Lowe tried to emphasize when remodeling the store.
"Talking to the previous owners, that was what the community wanted to see. It was kind of their vision, and when we took it over, we wanted to continue their vision," Lowe said.
Lowe said he installed two 1930 Bastian-made soda fountain heads and an ice cream dipper.
"You pump out the root beer and poor the soda from it. I built the redwood bar around the cabinet. I ordered 1950s seats online that spin," Lowe said. "They are retro ’50s and the bar is all wood."
The Lowes moved to Park City in 1989 then moved to Woodland two years ago because it was less expensive and it was a quiet rural town. His experience working in Park City helped him gain the confidence to open the shop.
"I’ve done a lot of things," Lowe said. "I’ve worked as a carpenter, waiter; I worked in the film industry as a lighting technician. Right now I’m framing in Park City. I’ve been working many years doing many things and this is our first business since."
As many small business owners do, he hopes his shop will become a success and he can quit his day job.
"The dream is that it generates enough revenue that we can both work there. I need to keep framing, though, until it generates enough business," Lowe said.
The Lowes had their eyes on the store for about a year before it became available.
"The store was for sale last year and we looked into buying it," Lowe said. "Somebody else purchased it and put it up to lease then it sat there for four months."
They contacted both the new and previous owners about the store’s potential. Lowe learned the previous owner had become ill and was unable to run the business. Before he became ill, the business "showed progressive growth every year," Lowe said.
With some restaurant experience, the Lowes saw an opportunity and decided to take a leap.
"Having wanted to do it before it was sold and seeing it sit there for four months, we decided to do it," Low said. "But, I’m not sure if it was that soundest judgment," he said laughing.
His hesitation rests on the financial risk the Lowes agreed to take.
"We took out a second on our house," Lowe said. "It’s gambling really. That’s kind of the struggle right now, just trying to get the business up and running. Trying to get a product customers will want enough to make it work."
Lowe’s first step as an entrepreneur has come with a quick on-the-job education.
"We still are going through the process of learning this," Lowe said. "It took me a long time to build the space and the cabinets."
Carrie, Low said, handled most the small details like getting a food handler’s permit, licensing and talking to credit card companies.
"There are a lot more details and small steps involved that you don’t see ahead of time," Lowe said. "It took me three months to start the store and we’re still building a sandwich menu board."
Not only did they deal with complications of being first-time business owners, soon after they signed the lease, Carrie had a baby.
The end goal however, is what keeps them running through the obstacles.
"I do see the dream," Lowe said. "Having a store a quarter a mile away from the house would be awesome if we could make enough money."
He is counting on the summer to boost his business.
"If we can make it until the summer, we’ll be in good shape," Lowe said.
Some of the locals are cheering for the store to make a comeback as well.
"We’ve met so many people that have seen the building and have been visiting it since they were children, and now they’re 50," Lowe said.
"The community out here is great," he added. "They come in and everybody seems to have a positive take on the space and their experience here."
Lowe said the Woodland Cash Store has become a drama in his attempt to create a long-time successful business, and he knows it will take more work.
"It is exciting to be in business and have an opportunity to create," Lowe said. "I think there’s a certain amount of excitement involved when you’re gambling, but it’s not the way to do it."
Lowe even thinks people from Park City should take the 25-mile trip to Woodland to take a break from their normal routine and discover the ambiance of the store.
"It has a wild feel out here," Lowe said. "The mountains are still big and there are still elk and deer and bears. There are no ski resorts and it has a Wild West feel. It might be good to get out of Park City a little bit, there’s not traffic."
The Woodland Cash Store is located at 2734 East State Route 35 four miles out of Francis. The store is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call (435) 783-5329.
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