Thursday, June 14, 2012

Corner of Dorotich Street and Harborview Drive

This corner has supported businesses since the turn of the last century.  In last Wednesday’s blog when we were discussing A. N. “Nick” Novakovich we mentioned that he moved across the street in 1924 after Martin Stanich purchased the property and rebuilt the building at the corner of Dorotich Street and Harborview Drive.

Harborview Drive with Stanich Store at right.  
What follows is a brief history of this property in the Town of Millville.

Joseph and Fred St. Peter purchased the land around 1906.  They built a wooden structure facing Dorotich Street and opened their grocery and mercantile store inside.

They didn’t remain in business very long because S. P. Strout bought the property and building around 1909.  Strout also bought a small barn behind the store building.  The store was stocked with groceries, bulk items, cookware, oil lamps, derby hats and common garden tools, seeds and the like.  His ads stated “Hay, Feed, Flour and General Family Supplies”.

Strout’s largest customer base was of course the fishermen who purchased their supplies before leaving for their long summers away from home.  He had a practice of “carrying” his customers until they could pay their bills after the fishing season which was then rewarded when the fishermen and their families paid.  The reward was a sack of something and this system lasted until 1917 when the economic downturn caused by World War I compelled him to change.  He called his new system “The McCaskey System”.  This system meant that he provided the customer with duplicate sales slips including their balance and a wall holder to store the debited slips in until they could pay.

Strout owned a beautiful team of horses that he used to make deliveries.  In a recollection by Nellie Austin Erickson, she told of the teams' frequent runaways.  Another resident at that time, Ethel Gayle Abel, remembered that when they went to Tacoma, they could leave their horses in Mr. Strout’s care where he kept horses and feed.

Anthony A. Rabasa lived in a small apartment above the barn.  He rented the store from Mr. Strout sometime in the teens.  Anthony’s brother, John Rabasa, owned a grocery store in Old Tacoma.  Anthony continued the trade built up with the Gig Harbor fisherman.  It was during Anthony’s time running the store that it caught fire and burned to the ground in 1924.

Following the fire, Martin Stanich, a lifelong fisherman, bought the property with his brother, Tony, from Mr. Strout.  They rebuilt the store but with the store facing Harborview Drive as the building does today.  The store prospered under their ownership until they retired in 1971.  During the final 12 years in business, Tony recalled that they included the Washington State Liquor Agency in their store for their customers’ convenience.  The Stanich brothers, like their predecessors, handled business on credit until the fishing season was over. 

Today the building houses Susanne’s Bakery & Deli and New York Nails Salon.
 Building in recent years

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

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