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Shopping Happenings September 2006

Dave Corners the Market on the Friendly Neighborhood Store

Mayor DaveRemember when folks convened at a tacitly agreed upon store, not so much to purchase its wares, but mostly to converse and catch up on local gossip. When you walked in, you were greeted with a personal “hello, how’s Marge” or “Hey, how’s the Chevy running now?” Even if you were born post ‘50’s, your mind can conjure up this image of idyllic neighborliness because that type of general store atmosphere has been immortalized by the media in shows like Andy Griffith’s where the barbershop served as Mayberry Central.

Dave Sakrison, mayor of Moab and owner of Dave‘s Corner Market, grew up in Seattle with just such a store in his neighborhood. This was his inspiration when establishing his own version here back in 1984.

The Uranium boom had gone bust, but young Dave’s heart was bursting. He had met Melody, the woman who has become his wife and partner in the store, and he wanted to stay in Moab. When he started to envision new enterprises, he quickly settled upon opening his own neighborhood store.

Located on the corner of Millcreek Drive and 4th East, the mini-mart is essentially located in the center of Moab. Figuratively, it is located in the heart of the town, keeping track of the community’s pulse as local news drifts in and out.

The store’s history evokes small town life as it used to house Doc Mayberry, the town’s doctor. Under Dave’s ownership, the place has become a landmark. I rarely give directions to my home on the east side of town without saying, “Know where Dave’s is?” Invariably, all Moabites do.

On a cursory glance, the store resembles a typical mini-mart. The merchandise includes the regular sundry items that customers may have a quick need of: diapers, soda, Gatorade, ice cream bars, newspapers, laundry detergent, toothpaste and so on. Convenience to the customer is definitely the drive behind the inventory.

The quick-stop items, however, belie the slow rhythm of many of the patrons, especially of the extensive coffee bar. Dave’s offers over 70 varieties of coffee from a long list that includes African, South American, organic, flavored and decaffeinated. A regular table and chairs invites loitering on one end of the store while two tall coffee-bar tables and chairs line the window on the other side, inviting customers to people-watch.

One group who doesn’t pass up the invitation is a group of regulars whom Amanda Domenick, the store clerk and Dave’s cousin, affectionately dubs the “Ol’ Timers.” They’re men who’ve known Dave and each other for many years and convene every day, rain or shine, at two o’clock in the afternoon at the Corner Market to drink coffee and catch up.

Outside, there are two stone and wood benches supporting a variety of shell ashtrays. I have rarely passed these benches in the morning and not seen them well-occupied. Here local residents exchange the real news, the stuff none of the newspapers sold next to the benches can really capture.

That Dave was drawn into local politics eighteen years ago, serving on various boards including the city council, is not surprising when the Corner Market gives him such intimate access to the local residents’ thoughts and plans. When Dave ran his mayoral campaign, he ubiquitously placed life-sized cardboard reproductions of himself smiling and drinking a cup of coffee around town. The Dave reproductions (one of which still resides at the Market, greeting customers) seemed like an appropriate representation of the man, since Dave is easy to find and easy to talk to. He stays connected with the people of Moab. He attributes this connection to Dave’s Corner Market by explaining that “the store gives me a good grounding to the community.”

On the rainy morning I stopped in to take Dave’s photo, a typical gathering of folks was convened at the store picking up a hot drink before work. Some were sitting on the benches outside despite the inclement weather. Inside, Dave was busy making drinks. As one regular came in, Dave simply reached into the fridge behind the coffee counter and pulled out Chai and held it up. The man smiled and nodded and they resumed talking about a topic obviously started on the previous encounter.

You know you’ve walked into the local general store when the conversation between owner and customer centers on each other’s lives, not the merchandise. That’s what Dave’s is like.

Dave’s Corner Market is located on 4th East and MillCreek Drive and can be reached at 259-6999.
When you stop by, tell them you read about it in Moab Happenings!

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