Boucher Jewelers just doesn’t have that good ol’ alfalfa smell anymore.
Not that anyone minds.
From Oct. 1 to 15, the longtime Keizer jewelery store at 4965 River Road North will be celebrating its 60th anniversary. Brothers Jeff and Steve bought the business from their parents, Ray and Louise Boucher, in 1991 and moved the store to its current location in 1994.
Needless to say, things are a bit different at the store compared to 60 years ago, when Ray and Louise – married the year before – came to Keizer from Springfield, where Ray had been at a jewelery store with his brother-in-law.
“It was in an alfalfa store across the street from here,” Ray said of the original store location. “You could climb over the wall and go into the alfalfa store. It was just a little room branched off from the store. In the summer my store smelled like a feed store. The dust would waft into my store.”
To put it nicely, times were tight.
“At the time, nothing was out here,” Ray said. “There were just some orchards and a service station on the corner. We had no inventory. I did clock and watch repair. I was doing it for what few customers we had, plus for other stores. That kept us going the first few years. It was terrible. It was sometimes one or two customers per day. We had no idea how tough it was going to be. Many, many times we thought we’d better get out. Even after 10 years it was still tough. Repair work is what sustained us.”
Opening Boucher Jewelers in 1953 was only one of many things keeping the couple busy that decade. Sons Ron (1955), Jeff (1957) and Steve (1958) came, plus there was the initial foray into horse racing in 1956.
“You’ll never know how stressful it was,” Ray said of the financial pressure. “Even a few dollars for curing the illness of the boys was tough. There was no income. It was tough. But for some reason we persevered.”
All the while, Ray and Louise tried to grow their business. Ray was one of seven charter members of the Keizer Merchants Association, one of several examples of his community involvement.
“He’d be chair of all these events,” Jeff said. “He was involved in most of the events in town. When you’re the son of that, you see he’s put on a big event. That puts it on your mind to be involved in the community.”
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Evening congestion will continue a bit longer at a busy intersection in Keizer.
The Oregon Department of Transportation was scheduled to build a $2 million roundabout (including design, right-of-way acquisition and construction) at the intersection of Chemawa Road NE and Verda Lane next summer, with bidding set to take place in January.
Bill Lawyer, Keizer Public Works director, confirmed last week the project is being pushed back.
“Now it’s set up to go to bid in November 2014, with the start of construction in the spring of 2015,” Lawyer said.
Lawyer emphasized the delay does not indicate a lack of support for the project.
“One of the concerns from ODOT folks was there was a huge amount of work being bid on in January,” Lawyer said. “With so much work being bid on, it might drive prices up due to sheer volume. They basically said we’ll let those get bid, wait a little while and probably get lower bids. There was just a backlog of projects all coming on at the same time.”
Lawyer said such a rush of projects isn’t expected next fall.
“They don’t anticipate that,” Lawyer said of ODOT officials. “That backlog wouldn’t be there in November 2014.”