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Kennedy's Eastside Market legacy to continue
By Pat Caldwell
For Baker City’s Teresa Perkins tradition still matters.
Perkins — who is in the process of purchasing Kennedy’s Eastside Grocery — said while a desire to own her own business played a major role in her decision, the potential to continue a hometown legacy also fueled her choice.
Perkins stepped behind the counter at the venerated Baker City establishment late last week. She said she is purchasing the business from current owners — Kevin Logsdon and Jay Raffety — and is happy about her new role as a small business owner.
“I’m just excited about the opportunity,” Perkins said.
Over the years, Kennedy’s Market secured a special type of veneration for residents and became a traditional fixture in the community.
Known for “the coldest beer and cheapest pop” the small store epitomized the image of the corner market.
Longtime owner Roger Kennedy — whose family operated the store for more than 60 years -— closed down the business late last summer in a move that seemingly marked the end of an era.
Perkins said she is well aware of the historical overtones attached to Kennedy’s Grocery. The sense of tradition linked to the store, she said, is one of the reasons she decided to purchase it. The tradition — not to mention the reputation — of the store resonated with her.
“You could walk in here and almost buy anything,” she said.
Perkins said one of her dreams was to own her own business.
“I’ve always wanted to be in business for myself. And because Kennedy had this store for so long in this neighborhood,” she said.
Perkins said one of her main goals will be to enhance the small, corner market feel to the eastside store.
“I’m going to rearrange the store as well. I want it to be the mini-market,” she said.
Perkins said along with augmenting the corner market atmosphere of the store, she wants to ensure that customers not only come in, but keep coming back. And that, she said, is based on one key attribute.
“Provide the best customer service I can,” she said.
While Perkins conceded she welcomes the chance to be her own boss, she also said she understands that her new role will require a huge investment of her time. That’s OK, though, she said.
“There will be long hours. But I believe it will be worth it,” she said.
Right now, Perkins said, her focus centered on learning her new job.
“I only answer to myself at this point but it’s kind of unnerving because you want to meet everyone’s expectations,” she said.
Perkins said one element to the new job she enjoys the most is the customers.
“The best thing has really been the interaction. I like talking to people and I like staying busy,” she said.
So far, Perkins said, customer traffic has been good.
“Over the weekend I had 92 people. So that’s pretty good for this little store in this neighborhood this time of year,” she said.
Looming over her entire project though is the sense that she is taking over an establishment with strong historical overtones across east Baker City. Now, with Perkins at the helm, the lights of a venerated local corner market will continue to illuminate the night.