Local Business News on the Southern Oregon Coast
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Wagon Wheel Grocery  

By Lisa Carroll, Staff Writer

The people of Wagon Wheel Grocery, a charming, old-fashioned store in Hauser, are gearing up to celebrate its 30th anniversary on December 18th. Owners Bill and Carole Hastings maintain the store as a joyous hub of the community.

Bill had dreamed of having his own business since he was a young boy, telling his mother he wanted a grocery store like the one down the street from his home. After high school, Bill worked in the Colorado and Wyoming oil fields for 10 years, and that’s when he met Carole, a teacher in Head Start at the time.  Looking to start a business and live close to the ocean, the Hastings visited the Oregon coast to check out the store that was for sale in Hauser. They knew immediately this was the right place to be. Three months later, they, with their 5 year old son Carl, moved to Hauser and opened the store. “Today, I’d do the same thing all over again. I’ve enjoyed it so much,” said Bill.

The Hastings find frequent opportunity to show love for their customers. “You get a free candy bar if it’s your birthday!” Bill said. “And of course, coffee is always free on the holidays.” They’ve held an anniversary event every 5 years since the store opened, where customers get to draw tickets for prizes. Carole, who also runs a home daycare, shared a great story about a 3 year old boy who won the turkey one year. “It was a 20lb turkey, and no way would he let anybody help him get it to the car!” she told me, laughing.  The 30th Anniversary will be a big event the whole community plays a part in. “Every customer who comes in can have a free coffee, or a pop. We’ll have cookies, too, and everybody wins a door prize,” Carole said. 

Bill and Carole Hastings, owners of Wagon Wheel Grocery in Hauser, wish to thank the community for their support and friendship over the past 30 years. (Photo by Lisa Carroll)

The Hastings are good to their workers, too. Bill said, “We really appreciate our employees. They are like family, always there to pitch in to help, even if they aren’t working that day.” The employees have a lot of appreciation for the Hastings in return. Norene Helliwell, who has worked at the store for over 20 years, said, “It's the best job I’ve ever had. Bill and Carole are awesome to work for. They take you in as part of their family when you’re working with them.” Employee Julie Hudson told me, “Bill and Carole are wonderful, genuine people, and they really do care for us, and are very accommodating to our needs. And, they are involved with the community. Customers feel like this is home.”  As longtime customer Rudy Sherych heartily affirmed, “The way they treat all the customers, and their employees, is something you don’t see a lot of anymore. This is the kind of home-town business that takes care of the neighborhood.” 

Bill and Carole were really into the Boy Scouts and school sports when Carl was growing up, and for years they were cast members of the ‘Sunny Hill Hillbillies’ at the Sunny Hill School. Bill was a volunteer firefighter for the Hauser Rural Fire Department for 25 years, and is currently on the Board of Directors, while Carole is a member of the Hauser Rural Fire Department Association. They are still active in any community project they can take part in, and each year, they happily donate food and toys to help local families have a good Christmas. Many of the children Carole cared for over the years have grown up, and frequently come back to visit with her, and to give her a hug.

 Their business is truly a give and recieve relationship. “Store hours are officially 5am till 9pm, but I’m usually here at 3:30 in the morning because I have loggers who come in for coffee,“  Bill told me. Carole said, “We cater to our neighbors. People come just to hang out and visit.  This is just a community area, a meeting place.”

It looks like the Wagon Wheel is here to stay. Bill said, “We’ve got no plans to retire. I figure if we’re still having fun, why retire?” I asked the couple what advice they have for folks just starting out. “Like I tell all the kids, first get the most out of school that you can. Set a goal, because if you’ve got a goal, you can do it. You’ll hit some spots sometimes that might set you back, but if you have a goal in mind, you can always get back to it.” Carole added, “And, do what you love. We love what we are doing, and we’re looking forward to the next 30 years!”

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