Lovingly local

All around the town of West Linn, local shops can be found dripping with history and stories. Here is a small collection of the town’s locally-owned businesses.

Wishing Well Flowers

Lauren Sexton

Recently celebrating its 60-year anniversary, Wishing Well Flowers and Gifts is a flower shop that also sells small gifts and charms. Selling special order bouquets as well as off-the-shelf ones, the shop has a wide variety of flower options, including its most popular— roses.

Starting in Lake Oswego, the store relocated to Highway 43 under its original owners, the Raujol family. Since the relocation, the store has had three different owners, including the current owner, Selena Ross.

Ross began her career as a florist when she was living in California. She gained knowledge and skills on how to make floral arrangements from multiple different shop owners around her community. After gaining that experience, she started her own business managed from her house. She did this for 22 years, focusing primarily on weddings.

“Eventually, I moved to Oregon and hoped to run a more prominent business than my last,” Ross said. “The opportunity to take Wishing Well came up and I, of course, was very interested and eager at the idea of running such a great store.”

However, taking over a local business as a person who recently moved into the area can present challenges such as if the business will still thrive and keep its regulars.

Lauren Sexton

“I talked to the third family owners about my worries regarding my ownership, and they said the community is very welcoming and that I would be left in good hands,” Ross said. “Since then, I have absolutely loved owning the business. It has brought me many great relationships with the people around the community and I love working and getting to spend time with my son and daughter-in-law.”

With the store being tucked away on a quiet street, most people wouldn’t look twice when viewing the store. Despite this challenge, Ross makes sure that the business appeals to customers. Part of this includes maintaining elements of the previous ownership.

“You wouldn’t think much just looking at it from the outside,” Ross said. “It’s a hidden gem. But, because of this, I try to keep the store’s uniqueness there. In the original store, water fountains were placed throughout to make the store have a calming atmosphere. I try to keep at least one going to keep the tradition or for customers who have been here since the beginning and will recognize the sound.

This year’s order numbers increased compared to last year’s due to the freeze that took out the shop’s power in 2022 during Valentine’s Day. The freeze made it hard to store its flowers, resulting in fewer orders and the ones that did come in having to be shipped as soon as possible. However, the orders needed to be delivered by the employees because their delivery service did not want to drive in the snow and ice. 

“Valentine’s Day is extremely busy but, oddly enough, they plan more for Mothers’ Day,” Ross said. “Which I know wouldn’t seem like it, but Mothers’ Day, most florists would say is their bread winner. Mother’s Day is the set-up for the rest of the year, whereas Valentine’s Day sets you up for Mothers’ Day.”

COVID-19 impacted the business differently than others. Due to the fact that most people could not see each other, the company got numerous orders from people who still wanted to show their appreciation for their loved ones. People placed orders for various special days such as birthdays and anniversaries. This led to the company thriving during this period.

“It was one of those bitter sweets where you lose a lot of daily walk-ins but you have a lot more going out for delivery,” Ross said. 

Para Juice Bar

Lauren Sexton

Community members in the mood for a fruit-filled treat can check out Para Juice Bar. The small store is located on Willamette Falls Drive in Old Willamette and has been running for almost two years. With its grand opening on March 17, 2021, the company has been getting a steady stream of customers since.

Bridget Carpenter is the owner of the business and she also does photography. In earlier years of Carpenter’s career, she helped manage Lark Cafe and Allium Bistro, two companies also located in Old Willamette, owned by both Pascal Chureau and Ian Ragsdale. Working under these owners helped her gain the knowledge and tools to help start her own business, resulting in what is now Para Juice Bar. 

Carpenter’s sister-in-law, Allison Rusnac is the new manager of the business, and was promoted last September. 

Lauren Sexton

“I got interested in the business because of [Carpenter],” Rusnac said. “I used to live in Salem and thought being closer to family was a good idea. [Carpenter] owning the business was great in the fact that I would move knowing I would also be working at a place I was interested in and also working for the family.”

After almost two years of business, the company’s clientele has expanded and become a place locals are familiar with.

“Over the years, we got regulars who we now see frequently,” Rusnac said. “Overall, the community has been welcoming to the company and I have been enjoying working here. [Carpenter] is very good at managing the company and has been a great owner so far.”

Para Juice Bar is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., but is not open on Mondays. If you are looking for a way to get food items such as smoothies, bowls, and gelato, check out Para Juice Bar. 

Willamette Coffee House

Lauren Sexton

Situated on 8th Court, Willamette Coffee House has been selling pastries, coffee products, tea, and merchandise since 1996.

The current owner, Kaycie Bingham, has been running the business for a little over eight years. She bought her first coffee shop, a drive-thru, back in 2005. Over the course of her time there, she realized her love for making coffee as well as creating a deeper connection with the people who walk through her door. She had been in the business off and on before eventually purchasing the coffee house on Valentine’s Day in 2014. 

As for the business, holidays provide excellent opportunities to sell gift cards and fun merchandise that comes year-round. 

The coffee house also holds birthday parties and other special events for people around the city, especially if they are close to Bingham and her family.

Lauren Sexton

“The previous owner had built a wonderful business centered around the community,” Bingham said. “It was a little intimidating running the business at first but thankfully the regulars welcomed me, and my family, with open arms.” 

Throughout her time as the owner, she has made connections with many people and families, and so has her staff.

“I love that our regulars are invested in the lives of my staff,” Bingham said. “We’ve had regulars attend weddings, baby showers, and birthdays. Some of the girls even house or pet sit for customers. We are a family here and the customers are just extended parts of our families.”

COVID-19 and the restrictions that came along with it resulted in the coffee house shutting down which took a toll on the store financially. However, the coffee house was able to stay open by selling take-out-items only. 

“I honestly believe it’s because of the relationships we have with our customers that we were able to survive the pandemic,” Bingham said. “We never had to let any of our staff go.” 

Bingham has been running the store for a little over 9 years, with the help of her family and employees. With this, Bingham has made expectations for the store, including how the service is from the moment you step in to the moment you walk out.

“What makes Willamette Coffee House special is the relationships being made over a cup of coffee or a yummy pastry,” Bingham said. “I strive to make sure every person entering our shops feels like they’ve walked into West Linn’s living room. And when they leave, we do our best to thank them for coming in and invite them back.” 

As for the future of the coffee house, Bingham plans to own the shop for a long time. 

“One of my nieces recently took a job with me, though, and I love having family involved in the business,” Bingham said. “We will see if any of my boys want to work here someday.”

These are just a few of the local treasures you can find while walking through the town of West Linn. Each of these stores has something unique to offer and are just a taste of the local options.