Five Galleries in One: 5,500 Square Feet of Variety at Lawrence Gallery
When anyone asks Gary Lawrence if he’s been an artist all his life he replies, “not yet!” Even at 76 years of age, Lawrence still creates original works of art and enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with anyone who visits the gallery. The story of the gallery starts in the late 1960’s when Lawrence, who lived in Willamina at the time, was one of 25 artists in Oregon selling sculptures made of metal and bronze from his home. Successful sales of his artwork prompted him to open his own gallery, adding sculpture, pottery and paintings from artists around the area. The gallery, located on highway 18, the busiest two-lane highway in Oregon, was first a country store then a community center.
The focus has always been on quality art from talented Northwest artists; today, it is also the home to many famous masters such as Salvador Dali, Picasso, Chagall and many more. Little did Lawrence know that one day a woman from Salem would visit the gallery to buy a sculpture and end up marrying the sculptor. Signe Lawrence has her master’s degree in audiology and speech pathology and was working at Salem Audiology Clinic at the time of her visit to the gallery and fell in love with not only the artwork, but the man behind it all. She left her position at the clinic and started helping husband Gary in the studio. She began sculpting herself and has been in the gallery for 20 years now. “People travel from all over the world to visit our gallery, and we are privileged to be able to bring to the public amazing works of art,”says Signe.
The Lawrences love sharing their passion for the arts to collectors, artists, students and anyone who is interested in art or art history. The gallery aims at inspiring visitors, whether they are consumers, collectors or other artists looking for inspiration. “Gary has helped many artists make more from their art by spotting talent and providing guidance,” says Signe, smiling. Lawrence Gallery hosts a variety of shows throughout the year with multiple media including sculpture of stone, fabricated and cast metalwork, jewelry, pottery, glass, paintings, historic Vatican pieces and more. The gallery also offers well-kept gardenpaths and water features that surround the outside of the building.
Visitors will find an outdoor sculpture garden on the property as well as Gary’s Northwest Japanese style art studio. In addition to the outdoor garden, visitors will be able to enjoy wine tasting in July when the wine bar re-opens. The gallery serves as a venue for special events and is home to millions of dollars’ worth of artwork that has enchanted and entertained guests since 1977. The gallery is one-in-a kind, recognized by one of the most distinguished art magazines in the United States. Art and Antiques Worldwide Media, LLC selected Lawrence Gallery as one of only seven best places for building an art collection, and the only gallery chosen on the entire West Coast. The Lawrences’ wouldn’t have it any other way; they enjoy the area and the location of the gallery because “the energy and collaboration here is contagious. We support the community by hiring local contractors and in turn this community supports the gallery. It’s a wonderful place to live,” says Signe. Next year, the Lawrence Galley celebrates its 40th Anniversary as one of the most outstanding galleries in the United States, located right here in the heart of Oregon wine country.
“A Favorite Tasty Destination”
Ed Frazier’s professional career has been in many different industries throughout his career. He has worked in the commercial construction management industry in Alaska and Tigard Oregon for around 14 years. During his time in Alaska, Ed met his soon to be wife Susan while working Construction. In 1996, The Frazier’s began another professional milestone by owning the Service Master Franchise until 2007. After finishing this chapter of their career in field of a Service Master Franchise, Ed wasn’t ready to let go and be done with his love of work. Ed heard through the grapevine that the well-respected Wild Wood Café in downtown McMinnville Oregon was for sale. The Frazier’s ended up making the decision to be the new owners of Wild Wood Café in 2011.
Over the years Wild Wood Café has been under a few different ownerships and still has managed to keep its original taste and flavor. Ed and Susan Frazier were excited to be on the same train of those who started the favorite and famous restaurant spot in the heart of McMinnville, Oregon. Ed says, “why would you fuss with something that is working?”. From day one Ed has kept the Café the way it was handed off to him. From the menu, to the employees and to the fun welcoming atmosphere the Wild Wood Café brings to its familiar and new customers. Wild Wood is known for its Famous “Best Known French Toast”. This is one of their specialties. It is made from their homemade bread and homemade granola. It is a delicious delight for everyone to enjoy! Another favorite at Wild Wood Café is the The Michelbook Omelet.
The drive and passion of Wild Wood Café is to keep consistency, have good food and service. “If we take care of the customers then the customers will take care of us”, says Ed. One of the main goals Wild Wood strives after, “is to give all who enter the Café a great experience and a fun time doing it”. The best part of being a business owner is “when your business is successful, involved, well known all over”. A unique aspect to The Wild Wood Café today, is how the employees are a part of what makes the dining experience so fabulous. They are even included on the menu with their own entrees. The serves and cooks at Wild Wood are family.
A huge part of Wild Wood is how they love to serve the local college students in the community of McMinnville by being a part of the Linfield College Voucher program. This gives students who stay in the community during the holidays and summer breaks a chance to experience other food choices.
As a member of the McMinnville Community and a member of the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce, it has given Wild Wood the ability to build and keep strong connections with locals and other businesses in the area. “There is a sense of a pride you feel when you have support in your business”. Wild Wood knows they can always count on the Chamber of Commerce for valuable connections and network opportunities.
Roots, Beyond Roots
Wanda Stenkamp loves to serve others. She started her career early on in the “ORARNG”, Oregon Army National Guard and continued with it for 23 years. During her time in the ORARNG, Wanda worked in the Field Medical Hospital 41st Infantry Brigade and completed her career as an (E7) Platoon Sergeant.
Along with her career experience in the ORARNG, she started her cosmetology journey by graduating from the McMinnville Beauty College in 1982. Her ﬁrst big gig out of school was when she was hired by Iona Harris, owner of Studio of Hair Design. Iona took Stenkamp under her wing and encouraged her to follow after her passion of cosmetology and making one feel conﬁdent in themselves. Iona not only passed along her clients but also her reputation in the McMinnville community to Wanda.
Through the years Wanda has owned and operated her own business for over 26 years. She founded Professional Plus and has continued to grow her business by moving her salon and expanding it for 17 years. She closed Professionals Plus and founded Urbanbliss Luxury Salon in 2004. Wanda welcomes new guests to her schedule and she specializes in customizing your own individual “look” for you! From color correction, hair styling, cutting, or just helping you to pick a style or color that will compliment you best!
Wanda prides herself in bringing the best to the business. According to Stenkamp, “to be established in this industry, one needs to continually educated themselves in the current trends, attend hair shows and takes classes each year to help gain business”. When you do these things to help better yourself and your business,” what you measure will treasure and what you treasure will grow”. As a hair dresser, one of the most important things Wanda has seen is to, “keep consistency as a hair dresser for those your serve and to not bring apathy to your clients”. For Stenkamp, “the best part about being a hairstylist, is the relationships you build and the stories you get to hear. By building the relationships ﬁrst and then creating a trust level with the client that no matter the situation, you will always take care of them through the thick and thin with service backed up with a guarantee”.
“The community of McMinnville and the greater area of Yamhill County is wonderful. There is a sense of respect you receive by this community as a business owner. Over the years she has seen The Downtown Association develop 3rd Street into greatness and change with now having so much to offer for the local community and visitors to enjoy. The McMinnville Downtown Association and The McMinnville Chamber of Commerce has made a huge difference”. She says, “by being a business owner and a member of The McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce, it has given her a sense of pride to live in a town that is thriving, has remarkable history and truly wants to see you succeed by giving you the ability to grow and connect with other business owners”.
“Nothing Bad Happens in a Knitting Store”
Susan Wilcox is all too familiar with travelling. She’s worked as a broadcast television reporter for many years and travelled all over the United States for her job. Two years ago in the spring of 2014, Wilcox was at lunch with one of her close friends in McMinnville when she saw that Boersma’s Knitting Basket was up for sale. A beginner knitter herself, Wilcox enjoyed her fast-paced dream life in Chicago, she thought it would be even more fun to take the opportunity to live the life of a retailer in the heart of beautiful wine country. She ran the numbers, made spreadsheets and flew out to McMinnville a few months later, buying the store with the rest of the leftover inventory. She says the move from Chicago to McMinnville was easy and refreshing because city life was becoming too busy for her. The McMinnville community gave her a warm welcome when she opened Oregon Knitting Company on October 1, 2014.
Shortly after opening the store, Wilcox immersed herself in the community and started giving back by joining the Rotary Club of McMinnville. As a member of Rotary, Wilcox has been a part of the committee who votes on scholarships that provide financial aid to high school and college students. She has also helped with the program that gives dictionaries and encyclopedias to fourth graders on behalf of Rotary and often volunteers at the McMinnville Cooperative Ministries. “They call me the dishwashing queen,” she laughs and explains how she can wash dishes for over 400 people a night and have volunteers home by 11 p.m. Wilcox enjoys the opportunity to give back to the community and tries to help out in any way she can, donating and aiding with educational programs, silent auctions and helping out those in need when she can. On top of all that, Oregon Knitting Co. also has a knitting club that has charity projects throughout the year.
“There is a wonderful sense of community and friendship here. We have a knitting, spinning and crocheting club that meets a few times a week. We enjoy teaching each other new techniques, sharing creative ideas and working on charity projects,” Wilcox says. This last Christmas, the club made hats for every child in Yamhill County and is currently working on a project for women who are breast cancer survivors. One of the club’s most recent projects was making purple caps for babies to support and raise awareness for shaken baby syndrome. She says that the club is fun and harmless because, what can go bad in a knitting store? For Wilcox, another part of being involved is supporting other businesses by shopping local.
“Being a business owner and member of the chamber in this community is great because you get to meet and share concerns, connect and help other businesses,” says Wilcox. She also hopes that the community can continue to care for and preserve the authenticity of 3rd street. On the acknowledgement of the steady growth of McMinnville she says, “It doesn’t matter how large this town grows as long as the residents acknowledge what this town looks like from the outside. I hope children can come back to this place and still get the same small town atmosphere that they did growing up.” She also notes the need for Salem’s legislature to recognize the small business friendly initiative and wants her customers and the community to know that she is accepting of anyone who wants to come in to shop, learn or share information with her in regards to knitting, crocheting and spinning.
At McMinnville Hearth and Barbeque, We’re Hot Stuff
Twelve years ago, friends and business partners Wolfgang Sailler and Reiley Reid were networking at a business event in Salem when Reid realized the need for a store that carried stoves and barbeques in McMinnville. At the time there was only one other store that carried a few products and he and Sailler thought it would be a great business opportunity to open a store that carries wood, gas, and pellet, stoves, fireplaces as well as outdoor barbeque kitchens and accessories. According to Sailler, McMinnville was the ideal location because it is located in the center of two large cities; Portland and Salem. McMinnville Hearth and Barbeque opened in 2004 with the mission of making each and every installation of a stove or barbeque safe and as convenient as possible for customers.
Sailler notes that there is more than meets the eye in McMinnville. There is a mix of both traditional and edgy businesses as well as a strong community of small businesses who support each other and strive to provide customers with the best services and products for the area. McMinnville Hearth and Barbeque tries to be actively involved in the community by donating products to auctions for fundraisers and works with local organizations like YCAP by replacing old products in houses for families in need. Sailler and Reiley have also cooperated with the Grand Ronde Tribe Housing Department to deliver heating improvements to tribe members. They want customers to know that safety is the first priority when purchasing a heating appliance.
“We want our customers to use appliances correctly and that is why we educate our customers on the proper use of our products, regardless of what they buy,” says Sailler. “We provide an educational CD called ‘Burn Wise’ that instructs customers on how to use stoves,” he adds. McMinnville Hearth and Barbeque encourages do-it-yourselfers to come to the experts before trying to install products themselves and also suggests all homeowners to follow the law that passed in 2011 which prohibits non-EPA compliant stoves made before 1990 to be reinstalled in homes. This is important for those who are selling or remodeling homes, says Sailler. “For those who are building a new home or remolding an older one, it is important to know the laws regarding heat appliances for homes,” he says.
Sailler says residents of McMinnville need to be more involved in local policy in the future because people only pay attention to what is going on at the state and federal level. “It isn’t just about stoves and fireplaces, it is about the general public being educated,” says Sailler. The best part of owning this business, according to Sailler and Reid is being able to help customers with problems. “We get calls all the time from frustrated customers who want to give up and buy something new. Once we are able to fix a simple problem, their face lights up,” says Sailler. If you want to purchase a stove or barbeque at McMinnville Hearth and Barbeque, you know you’ll be taken care of. Rest assured, they’re “hot stuff.”
At Accu-Tech Automotive, If It’s Broken, We’ll Fix It
Shilo Couch grew up riding dirt bikes and started rebuilding their engines with his father and older brother when he was just 12 years old. His father, who owned a gas station in Carlton at the time, was always tinkering with and fixing up vehicles for friends and family and would teach Couch how to work on vehicles with him. Couch’s older brother opened an automotive shop after high school and inspired Couch to follow in his family’s footsteps. After graduating high school, he attended Universal Technical Institute in Arizona, where he studied automotive repair and received his Associates Degree in Automotive Technology. Later in 2001, he went on to become Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Master Certified.
Couch enjoys the satisfaction of being able to help customers by fixing their broken vehicles and watching them leave with a smile. He will never pressure a customer into purchasing anything they don’t need and is fair with pricing. “I want to see customers drive off in a safe vehicle and I’ll always be honest. I don’t give up on vehicles just because there is a tough problem,” Couch says. He also enjoys creating relationships and making connections with his customers because Accu-Tech is a small business. “I like to know my customers on a personal level and treat them like family,” he says.
Couch strongly believes in the importance of family owned and operated businesses. “Small businesses are like families, we help each other out and are a great source of referrals for one another,” he says. He enjoys the events that McMinnville has because he says it creates a sense of a close-knit community. “Events like the Lemonade Day and Turkey Rama bring people together, and I think that is important,” Couch says. He notes that it is events like these that will help the McMinnville community grow stronger and continue to support small businesses in the future.
Everyone Can Eat at Angie’s Kitchen
Angie Floratos has an auto immune disease and it took almost forty years of her life to realize she had to make a serious lifestyle change to be healthy. When one of her sons became seriously ill at age 15 with the same auto immune issues as her, she started to experiment with creating and baking gluten free recipes for family and close friends. Word got out of these recipes and baked goods and before long a small client base started to form. A few years later, Angie and her husband Judus moved from Lafayette to McMinnville because they were tired of commuting and wanted to be closer to the activities in which their kids were engaged. They enjoyed the “feel” of McMinnville and it wasn’t until years later that moving would provide a central location for many of their customers.
After moving, Angie and Judus saw the power of a small community when word of mouth spread like wildfire of Angie’s gluten free goodies. The Floratos’ opened Angie’s Kitchen in December of 2014 with the mission of providing an inclusive environment where there is something to offer everyone. Almost all of the high quality and whole food ingredients used in Angie’s kitchen are sourced from local businesses and have no gluten, no gums, peanuts, soy, oats and hydrogenated oils. “We are trying to shut down common misconceptions about the taste of gluten free food by simply offering samples. Try something and tell us if you still like it without all of those additional ingredients,” says Judus. Angie’s Kitchen also wants customers to know that they try their best to maintain and balance the nutritional flavors of their products while also providing high quality goods people can trust.
Angie’s Kitchen does its best to accommodate the requirements for those who have specific dietary needs and encourages customers to share their stories when they visit the kitchen. “We have people who come in and start to tear up because they haven’t been able to find food items that fit their dietary needs in the past,” says Judus. “We really encourage customers to come in and just talk to us. We want to meet people where they are and we don’t push them out of their comfort zone,” Angie explains. “If customers are nervous or timid about trying anything, we try to start them out slow and introduce one thing at a time,” she says. Angie’s Kitchen has a family style atmosphere and environment, with colors and decor pulled from Angie and Judus’ home kitchen. “We want people to feel like they are a part of the family, that is why the kitchen is completely open and our staff is willing to talk to you and answer any questions you have,” says Judus. Angie and Judus say they have found their niche in providing these products and intimate atmosphere to others.
Part of the reason they the Floratoss’ enjoy living in McMinnville is the sense of community. “We love the ability to walk everywhere. Downtown is just around the corner, the pool our boys swim at, even the grocery store. Everyone we meet is friendly and welcoming,” says Angie. Small businesses in McMinnville support each other and word of mouth travels quickly. “We know other business owners who refer their customers to us all the time,” says Judus. “That is truly the power of a small community,” he says. Part of what makes Angie’s Kitchen special is that there is something there for everyone, even if you aren’t a member of the gluten free community. All you have to do is just follow your nose and look out for the bright orange door on Northeast 11th street.
At Wings & A prayer If We’re Home, We’re open
Barbara and Randy Coleman were at a 25th class reunion when they started talking to a couple who owned an alpaca farm. Their first thoughts were: “What’s an alpaca?” Their curiosity turned into a visit to their friend’s farm, which is where they fell in love with the animal that “just draws you in,” according to Randy .Neither Randy or Barbara were accustomed to farm life previously and thought this may be a new outlet for them. Fast forward 17 years and 100 alpacas later, and you have Wings & A Prayer Alpacas located on highway 99 in Amity. Randy explains the inspiration behind the name. He says: “Wings was the name of our first alpaca we bought and we thought, well, we will have Wings, and with a prayer, this might work out.”
The next years consisted of research from their friends, the internet, books and educational meetings with the Colombia Alpaca Breeding Association about raising and caring for alpacas. The Colemans now raise, sell and process the fiber of alpacas as well as sell and compost their remains to other local farms. They make yarn, clothing, decorative accessories, build feeders and shelters and sometimes sell the lean meat off of some of their animals to other farmers. “We like alpacas because they are an easy animal to raise. They don’t challenge fences, they average 150 to 200 pounds and they are timid, you wait for them to approach you,” says Barbara. When asked the most rewarding part of owning an alpaca farm, both Barbara and Randy answer simultaneously, “We do it for the baby alpacas. It is so fun to watch them grow,” they say.
The Colemans say that the community is very supportive of their business, and cite local shops that carry some of their products. “This community is unlike any other we have ever lived in. When we were in Canby, for example, we never felt involved or included. But McMinnville welcomed us with open arms and the residents here support small businesses,” says Barbara. The Colemans say that even though their farm is in Amity, they still feel included in many of the events McMinnville hosts throughout the year. “We are involved with the Thursday market and also support the sock brigade, an organization that donates alpaca socks to the troops.” says Randy. The Colemans explain that the special part of being involved is the networking opportunities.
“More growth in McMinnville is good. We enjoy meeting new people and other business owners because it opens doors for us and our business,” says Randy. Wings & A Prayer wants the community to know that they are open even when the sign isn’t lit. “If you come to our shop and we are home, we’re open. We’re almost always at the farm and anyone can stop by” says Barbara. Wings & A Prayer encourages people to stop by the farm to browse the shop, visit the alpacas or learn more about the lifestyle they offer.
At Encore, You’ll Always Come Back for More
10 years ago, Nikki Elliott was a stay at home mom with two little boys, married to a dedicated police officer who worked long hours. Although Elliott enjoyed being at home with her boys, she felt that God had additional plans for her. A fun summer project with her mother-in-law fixing up and reselling furniture out of her garage turned into the idea for Encore Home Furnishings. Elliot initially rented floor space in an antique mall and used her background and degree in computer programming to design a website to advertise inventory. After a few months of unexpected success, Elliott opened a small store in Bunn Village with a friend. Their business plan was to fill the gap in the marketplace between cheap thrift store furniture and expensive, brand new furniture, by selling gently-used consignments and new factory seconds.
Within the first two weeks after opening, Encore sold half of its inventory and customers from as far away as Vancouver and Eugene were driving to McMinnville to buy furniture. This is when Elliott knew she was really on to something. Over the next seven years, Elliott became the sole proprietor and gradually expanded the business to include eight buildings in Bunn Village. She worked hard to refine her business model, bringing in new sources of factory seconds, outdoor furniture seasonally, and brand new mattresses and living room furniture made in the Northwest. In 2013 she moved the store across Bunn Road to a new location with 15,000 square feet and business continued to increase. In December of 2015 Elliott and her husband purchased the property and buildings at their new location, and are currently in the process of adding an additional 10,000 square feet to their location.
Elliott wants people to know that Encore is a family-owned and operated business, employing over 25 individuals (including her three kids who are homeschooled) and four local sub-contractors. Encore staff focus on providing customers with amazing service and always stand behind the products they sell. The store offers financing options and layaway, as well as delivery for customers within 250 miles of McMinnville. Encore is involved in the community by donating products to local schools and organizations, and often helps individual families as needs arise. Encore is different from other furniture stores because it carries brand name items priced at 40 to 80 percent off retail, and over half of their inventory changes each month. They also keep their entire inventory updated online and loyal customers say that Encore goes “above and beyond.”
New and returning customers are greeted by friendly and helpful staff, often visiting the store for their weekly cookie and coffee fix and to see the newest inventory. Elliott says that she couldn’t have opened Encore without the support of the community, who recognizes the importance of small, family-owned businesses. “Businesses in McMinnville take care of each other. We all try to put our money back into the local economy, and do the best we can to help and support one another,” she says. Elliott also notes the importance of individuals to try to shop locally. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the support of my family and the community, and if I hadn’t been willing to step out in faith and follow this amazing plan God had for my life.” Thanks to the thousands of customers over the years who have supported her business, Encore Home Furnishings has grown over the last ten years from Elliot’s garage to nearly 30,000 square feet in combined onsite and offsite storage and created over 25 jobs for the local economy.
No Fancy Boxes Here, Just Honestly Good Chocolates
Dana Dooley has quite an impressive résumé. She has her Master of Business Administration from Stanford and worked for years as a marketing executive for several Silicon Valley firms. You might ask why someone in the technology field now owns a chocolate company. It was during a business trip in 1982 to Switzerland when Dooley fell in love with handmade chocolates. Shortly after her trip, she began making her own confections and sharing them with friends and family, who gave her raving reviews. A few years later, Dooley and her husband, who just received his degree in Oenology, decided to launch a chocolate business and start a winery, respectively, in the beautiful Willamette Valley. “Because what pairs better with chocolate than wine?” Dooley smiles when she explains how this pairing enhances both flavors of the chocolate and wine.
Dooley enjoys the synergy of coupling wine with chocolate and has partnered with nearly 70 local wineries to develop custom wine-friendly chocolates. Although Dooley and her husband frequently collaborate, neither of them is involved in the operations of the other spouse’s business. Why the name Honest? The name arises from one of the store’s core values: Honesty. “We are an ethical business who likes to be honest with our customers,” says Dooley. Her vision was to create handmade, affordable chocolates that don’t have to be dressed up in a fancy box to taste excellent.
“We aren’t a factory so all of our products are fresh and hand-dipped,” she explains. Dooley wishes to express to her customers that this is not the type of chocolate shop where you can eat an entire box in one sitting. The business model for Honest was designed from the start to have a central kitchen supporting a number of retail and chocolate dipping locations. Part of her decision to move to the McMinnville area and open a chocolate business, which has expanded to locations in Carlton and Newberg, is because of the local agriculture. “The wonderful thing about this area is the ability to use local ingredients. Many of the nuts, fruits, salt and honey come from local providers around the Willamette Valley area,” she says.
Dooley says she enjoys how the McMinnville community is supportive of small business owners and often look out for and help one another. She enjoys the tight knit feel of McMinnville as well as the authenticity of downtown, but says that she would like to see more residents of McMinnville visiting the popular and well-known Third Street. “I would like to see more local residents visit the small boutiques and businesses on Third Street because we are a part of why downtown is so special,” she explains. Dooley also notes that if and when McMinnville grows, she believes it will evolve and fit whatever changes that occur.
“Your Day, Your Way.” Carolyn Smithrud Will Take You Just about Anywhere
One afternoon, Carolyn Smithrud was at a winery when she overheard a group of friends visiting McMinnville discussing who would drive them home that evening from the wine tasting. Smithrud struck up a conversation with the gentlemen who opted to stay sober and drive for the evening and a brilliant idea started to form. “I thought, well, I have a car and I have time,” says Smithrud, who was in-between jobs at the time. Wheels N Time was born shortly after Smithrud talked to the Chamber, close friends and past colleagues who encouraged and supported her idea to open a personal private transportation service in McMinnville.
After Smithrud’s past positions as the VP of Administration at Evergreen, Field Coordinator for the Ford Family Foundation and a member of Toastmasters International, she felt lost in the workforce and longed for something more. Her passion for customer service and love for the Willamette Valley led her to open Wheels N Time, where she not only is a driver, but also a tour guide. “I ask customers what their interests are, what they want to see and then make suggestions. I enjoy sharing my knowledge of the area with others,” explains Smithrud. Not only does she take groups on wine tours, but will also drive individuals to dinners on McMinnville’s famous 3rd street, to Lincoln City for the day or to the Portland airport. “It’s your day, so we do it your way,” she says.
Smithrud stresses the importance of being involved in the community as a small business owner. “It is important to network and meet people. Being connected is never a bad thing,” she says. Smithrud also says she wants people to know that she isn’t like a traditional taxi or Uber service; she is more personal and enjoys getting to know her customers. “I love what I do because it allows me to see the beauty of this area through others’ eyes. You never realize how lucky you are to live where you do until someone else shows you,” she explains.
Smithrud wants to see the McMinnville community build stronger bonds with surrounding towns like Yamhill, Carlton, Lafayette and Dayton. “The McMinnville community is already so strong. We can only grow stronger with the support of the communities around us,” she says. She says it is important to keep connected because you never know what doors or opportunities it will open for your business.
Cindy Lorenzen’s Best Kept Secret
by Alexandra “Louie” Deraita
For more than 40 years, The Sage Restaurant has served fresh soups, sandwiches and salads made from scratch every morning. On any given day you’ll see owner Cindy Lorenzen in the restaurant “playing hostess” as she calls it, talking to and serving customers with a smile. Nicknamed “McMinnville’s best kept secret,” this restaurant encourages an intimate atmosphere where customers feel like family. “Consistency, quality and excellent customer service,” Lorenzen explains, are the key reasons to why this small business is always bustling with friendly faces.
Cindy Lorenzen is no stranger to the McMinnville community. She opened up a video store in 1981 that expanded and turned into Video Yogurt Express and then went on to open Java Expresso in 1992, which was one of Oregon’s first drive-thru coffee shops and in 1995, Lorenzen opened Union Block Coffee. Her passion for creating relationships with her customers led her to purchase The Sage in 2011. “One of the main reasons I love McMinnville is the connections. This community is authentic and real. The people are friendly and willing to help each other.” Lorenzen, a long-time member of the McMinnville community says her favorite part of owning the restaurant is being able to help others. “I enjoy creating relationships with my customers and making them feel like family,” she says.
“What is special about a being a business owner is being able to see a need in the community and help address it,” explains Lorenzen. At the end of the day if there is a surplus of food, The Sage donates it to local soup kitchens and ministries to aid individuals and families in crisis “I see the need in this community and I try to help in any way I can,” says Lorenzen. In December, The Sage was selected as restaurant for December’s Macc Mob on behalf of the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce and donated 25 percent of their proceeds to Aden’s Toy Drive, a toy drive that raises money and receives donated toys to distribute at children’s hospitals.
“I hope to see strong business and community partnerships in McMinnville in the future. I want people to continue to help each other and see this town remain authentic,” says Lorenzen. She expresses that being a small business owner and helping others is one of the most rewarding feelings in her life. “As this community grows it can only become stronger and I hope those who visit McMinnville see that,” remarks Lorenzen.