Washougal River Mercantile: A community gathering place

Customers appreciate receiving products and services with a smile

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Regular customers of the Washougal River Mercantile are often welcomed by name when they enter the store.

Infrequent visitors can expect a smile and a greeting from one of the store’s owners and employees.

Lori Nutting, a mercantile employee for 20 years, recently congratulated Washougal High School student Christian Noel after he completed the presentation of his senior project.

“You look nice,” Nutting said as Noel, wearing a dress shirt and slacks, walked past the deli counter on his way to buy a snack.

“I love this store,” Noel said later. “The Washougal River Mercantile is really friendly. They are almost like family to me.”

Noel’s father, Michael Noel, agreed.

“It is a family atmosphere and a very pleasant experience,” Michael said.

Noel’s senior project involved rebuilding a rifle. Marcus Fuller, one of the owners of the mercantile, is also a gunsmith.

Fuller served as a mentor for the project.

“He is a very knowledgeable person,” Noel said.

The community feel of this place cannot be denied.

Nutting said people have called the store when they find a cow in their yard, a loose chicken, a horse in the middle of the road or when they lose their dog.

“When there was an accident on Skye Road, they asked, ‘do you know what happened?'” Nutting said. “It’s truly a community center.”

The mercantile sells fruit and vegetable seeds, gloves, prints of wildlife drawn by the late Eric Johnson, car batteries, diapers, laundry detergent, dog and cat food, sunglasses, greeting cards and light bulbs, as well as mouse traps, charcoal, cake mix, cigarettes, soda, health and beauty products, candy, bread and barbecue sauce.

There are also spices, soups, spaghetti sauces, fresh fruits, wine and peanut butter, along with frozen foods such as waffles, pizzas and ice cream.

There are gasoline pumps, and propane tank refills are available. Hunting knives, orange vests, ammunition and elk and bear lure are available to purchase, along with rafts and fishing, painting, car care, plumbing and hardware supplies.

Washington State Parks Discover Passes, to park at various sites including the nearby Dougan Falls, can be purchased at the store. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fishing and hunting licenses are also sold there.

The deli has sandwiches, take and bake pizzas, corn dogs, egg rolls, jo jos and cookies. The most popular burger sold there is the “River Queen,” which includes swiss and American cheeses.

Near the deli are beef jerky and fresh pork loin, ribeye steaks, chicken breasts and macaroni and potato salads.

A seating area is next to a selection of doughnuts and muffins, as well as self-serve coffee, cappuccino and tea.

Katherine Baxter and Rhonda Reeser, teachers at Canyon Creek Middle School, purchased and ate a few snacks while enjoying a break before the fifth grade promotion and introduction to sixth grade teachers that evening.

“I love this little store,” Baxter said. “I’ve been coming here for 20 years.”

She was previously a teacher at Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School for 18 years.

“I have ordered pizza here for kids’ parties,” Baxter said, regarding the mercantile.

She said teachers refer to it as “the store,” when they go there for lunch.

Reeser recalled when she was new to Canyon Creek seven years ago. She needed to make a long distance call, and she was allowed to do that, at the mercantile.

Reeser gets gasoline and food there.

“It’s our mall,” she said.

Reeser has been a teacher for 27 years.

During “Teacher Appreciation Week,” the Canyon Creek Boosters purchased mercantile gift certificates for teachers.

“I’ve been bailed out by their gas station a few times,” Baxter said. “We’re lucky to have it here.”

The mercantile has DVD and videotape movie rentals, a copy machine and a free book exchange. Amusements for children include toy gliders, playing cards and water balloons.

The proximity of the mercantile to Washougal Motocross Park, 40205 N.E. Borin Road, is mutually beneficial.

Darren “Luda” Criss, a motocross employee, stopped by the mercantile while the park was hosting the Loretta Lynn northwest regional motocross championship.

The event attracted participants from New York, Wyoming and Utah.

“They support us, and we support them,” Criss said regarding the mercantile, as he filled a cooler with ice and beer.

He also bought a burger, before getting back into his baby blue 1971 Dodge van.

In addition to Marcus, the mercantile’s owners are his siblings Jeri Connolly, Karlyn Woods, Chris Fuller, Lisa Joner and Diana Shiluk.

Their mother, Charrol Ann Fuller, died in July 2011, and their father, Theodore “Ted” Regis Fuller, passed away in September 2014.

Chris Fuller said the original name of the business was Washougal River Mercantile.

When Ted and Charrol purchased the store in 1977, it was called Riverside Grocery and Cafe Inc.

“After mom and dad had removed the cafe in the early 80’s, they left the corporate name the same and changed the business name back to Washougal River Mercantile,” Chris said.

Near the front door is a sign commemorating the mercantile’s 20th anniversary in 1977.

There are also photos of Ted and Charrol, with the words “In Loving Memory” and “Together Again” included in the framed sentiments.

Chris recalls growing up, from the age of 12, in the house next to the mercantile. It sits along the Washougal River, and the view from the back deck is accented with roses.

The Washougal River Mercantile, 4232 Canyon Creek Road, Washougal, is open Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call 837-3470.