Dorena gets outlet for ‘cool stuff’
Posted: Thursday, Feb 1st, 2007
COTTAGE GROVE SENTINEL
DORENA — Any Dorena residents who have ever suffered
from early-morning incense cravings or that occasional lateafternoon Elvis clock longing and have had to go to Cottage Grove
or Eugene to sate their desires can now take heart. With the opening of Robert and Marsha Ritcher’s gift shop, Simbabluenobi, on Row River Road three miles east of Dorena School, those
two things — and countless other oddities — can be found locally.
Opening the shop is a life-long dream come true for
Robert, who owned a bootleg music shop back in the 70s and always hoped to again run his own business . The couple, which
moved cross-country to Dorena from Massachusetts in 1995, opened shop Jan. 1, just after Robert’s 50th birthday.
“We wanted to bring something to Dorena,”
said Marsha. “It’s so beautiful up here, why should people have to go clear to town to get a pack of batteries
or other things they want?”
Aside from convenience items like batteries, the store
contains a hodge-podge of eccentric novelties , from skull and dragon statues to Barbie dolls, Hitchcock movies to John Wayne
posters, cologne to flashing doggie collars to gift cards. It’s all what Robert just calls “cool stuff,”
and he scours the Internet and other real-world shops to find it.
“You’d have to hit like five different places
in Eugene to find all of this stuff,” he said, while demonstrating various clap-on mechanisms and other flashing minutiae.
The store itself is a converted woodshop that used to
be used by Robert’s father until he retired. Robert jumped at the chance to use the facility after a long career in
the restaurant industry, and he has big plans for the property — including converting the barn next door into an antique
shop of sorts (he already boasts of having an unopened Cottage Grove version of Monopoly, amongst other treasures).
As business picks up, the Ritchers also hope to offer
llama or horse rides on the property and showcase work from local artists.
“We want it to be a place where the whole neighborhood
can get out and have a fun adventure,” Robert said. “I’m not looking to make a million dollars — although
that would be nice — I just want to make a living and help other people make a living by having stuff here that they’d
normally have to spend gas money to drive for.”
The plan is also to make the store a place to accept
donations to the Humane Society, which Robert and Marsha thought would be appropriate since their three dogs — Simba,
Blue and Nobi — were the inspiration for the shop’s name. The Ritchers report that business started slow but is
picking up, mainly through word-ofmouth advertisement. But the biggest sales boost they get so far comes from Marsha’s
niece Ivy and nephew Jason, who take goods to show and tell at school and often wind up selling them.
“If they sell any more, I’m going to have
to make them employees,” she said.