The Halcyon Store: A Brief History
Many visitors have been curious about the history of the store and post office. The post office, now a branch of the Arroyo Grande Post Office, dates back to 1908, although the original building which housed it was situated about one block north of its present location. The first postmaster, Mr. William W. Kent, was succeeded by Mrs. Margaret Harrison, aided by her husband Ernest, and then in 1914 by Agnes Varian. In 1935 the store was taken over by Aileen Harrison, Ernest Harrison’s second wife. The couple operated what had now become a combination of store, post office and library, a unique establishment where one could purchase a money order, check out a library book, have a slice of cheese cut from the round brick, and even fill up with gas from the pump out in front, all services rendered by the same obliging, if somewhat breathless clerk.
By 1947 the rambling, vine-covered building had become quite decrepit. It was decided that it should be completely remodeled, and the part of the original structure that was salvageable was moved approximately one block south of its old location on Halcyon Road. In 1957 Joyce Hedin took over the store, renaming it the Halcyon Health Food Store, and in that same year the post office became a branch of the Arroyo Grande Post Office. The library, a branch of the San Luis Obispo County Library, was put in charge of Louise Lentz. The store served as a branch library until 1981.
In 1971, Louise’s son Dick Lentz agreed to succeed Joyce Hedin in running the store and post office. Throughout the 1970s the store had a series of proprietors, including Marguerite Covington, Toni Giliberti, and John Stamas. In 1976, Marti Fast and Eleanor Shumway took over. Long-time Halcyon residents, Marti and Eleanor both have fond memories of their time at the store, which they nicknamed the Small Mall.
The store was run briefly by Barbara Baker in 1982-1983, and then taken over in September of 1983 by Susie Clark, daughter of Louise Lentz, who remained in charge of the store and post office until her own daughter Jennie succeeded her in August 2008. Under Susie’s direction, the store gradually transformed from a grocery and variety store to a gift shop with a spiritual and New Age orientation. Though the store continues to sell a variety of food items, its focus now includes books on many New Age-related subjects, Indian artifacts, Asian imports, toys and children’s books, stones and crystals, jewelry, clothing, incense, candles, sculptures, and herbal bath preparations, among other items. In the early 1990s Susie inaugurated twice-yearly Craft Faires in a walnut orchard adjacent to the store, one in the spring and the other in the fall, and these have become highly popular and anticipated events.
Now in its 100th year of continuous operation, the Halcyon Store and Post Office is one of the oldest commercial institutions in the area. It continues to serve the public and the community in ever-changing and evolving ways.
- Adapted from History of the Halcyon Store and Post Office by Joyce Hedin and Linda Rollison