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Keyport Mercantile returns to town

 - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

KEYPORT — During its heyday the Keyport Mercantile was at the center of the community’s activity, but as time passed, it became simply another aging building with little hope of recovery.

Many in the area expressed their desire to see someone accept the challenge of restoring the store’s interior and breathing life back into what was once the community’s center, but no one person could do it.

That all changed when several new families, who live within a couple of blocks of the building, dared to attempt what others had tried and failed.

“We all wanted to see it return, but no one could do it by themselves,” said Brian Watne, who, with his wife Meche, his mother-in-law and three other couples, now runs the store.

Merely attempting to have someone at the store during normal business hours is a gargantuan task in itself, let alone tending to the financial aspects of the store, he said.

Before Keyport Mercantile finally opened its doors earlier this month, the residents had to drive 10 minutes just to get a loaf of bread, Meche Watne said.

“We’re right in the middle of Silverdale and Poulsbo, but we wanted something here,” she said.

Instead of purchasing the building, all of the couples formed a small corporation to lease the space and get a feel for running the store, before considering the idea of buying it outright, she said.

Over the years, the store, which once sat at the Keyport Torpedo Station, underwent some modernization and renovations as different services were provided by the previous owners, Meche Watne said.

Recognizing the building’s historic significance and wanting to see it restored to its past glory created an impetus to maintain the quaint feel with a few modern conveniences, she said.

“We stripped it down to the original wood floors,” she said.

Those floors had been covered by the fashionable floor coverings of the times including tile and linoleum, but remarkable most of the original wood was in good condition, Meche Watne said.

The walls were painted and the bathroom was completely redone, as everyone chipped in to make their dream a reality, she said.

The store is stocked with fresh produce from local farmers, basic food necessities like milk and eggs and all of the items that a general store should include, Brian Watne said.

“We’re trying to buy local as much as possible to support our local community,” he said.

There’s even a sandwich shop, where customers can grab a quick bite to eat or sit in the store’s dining area and enjoy the laidback pace of life in Keyport.

The store is open daily, so residents who need something on the weekends don’t have to travel far, Brian Watne said.

So far the store’s return has received a warm reception from area residents, and Watne said the owners couldn’t be more pleased.

“Things have been great so far, and we’re ahead of where we thought we’d be,” he said.

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