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In the Pipeline: A farewell to Country comforts

July 27, 2012|By Chris Epting

It is with sadness this week that I report the closing of one of Huntington Beach's most beloved and venerable businesses, Springdale Country.

For 42 years, proprietors Harold and Karen Marcus have run a store that is just as popular with out-of-towners as it is with locals, because it does so well what so many places try to do but come up short. That is, Springdale Country evokes another era; a simpler, more innocent time and place where locals gather around a candy counter and post office to catch up with each other. But the store also manages to provide a jaw-dropping array of fine and interesting merchandise; a selection that spans many current styles, tastes and budgets. So you get the best of the old and the new.

And while I report with sadness, both Harold and Karen stressed to me that, tough as it may be, they don't want customers to feel that way. They'd rather celebrate their history here in Huntington Beach, rather than mourn. Oh, there's some sorrow in their voices. But how could there not be? Their history is a marvelous dream come true.

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Why is the shop closing? As Karen explained, it's never done better than now. It's just that, with 14 grandchildren and she and Harold both approaching 70, they are ready for more family time. And while they tried to find a buyer to keep the store alive, it seems they couldn't find anyone in the next generation who appreciate the beauty of a true mom-and-pop store. "Just a sign of the times," Karen sighed.

They came to Huntington Beach from Montebello after Harold was drafted into the Army in the 1960s. He started here as a pharmacist at the country-style Springdale Drug, which had opened back in 1962. In 1970, when it became available, he and his wife jumped at the chance to own it.

The avid antique collectors envisioned not just a pharmacy, but an old-fashioned gift emporium designed to transport customers back to the cozy warmth of yesteryear. And that's what they created.

The big moment came when they won at an auction the complete interior of a circa-1800s English apothecary. The ornate fixtures, 10 major pieces in all, became the building blocks of the store design. Today, they are all still in place, maintaining the soul of the store.

One woman whose grandfather was a country doctor gave the store his old satchels. The pieces of the past hang on the wall today. Another woman's beveled glass case holds skeins of colorful yarn. And there are other pieces accumulated by Harold and Karen over the years.

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