ADDRESS: 114 SW 3rd St, Corvallis, OR
OWNER: Ruby Moon
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 32
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: One full-time, one part-time
WHAT THEY SELL: Junior and women’s clothing, jewelry and accessories, bras, lingerie, shoes, belly dancing supplies, African masks and statues, and gifts
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: The jewelry selection is stunning, and the high quality clothing and accessories are “fashion forward,” offering something for women of all ages, styles, and price ranges.
Featuring high quality women’s clothing and accessories alongside striking imported pottery, masks, and statues, the Golden Crane is a Corvallis original. For 32 years, owner Ruby Moon has been on the cutting edge, hand-selecting merchandise that is both appealing and unusual. Her staff is eager to help customers find just what they’re looking for – whether it’s a new outfit for a special occasion or a piece of jewelry for an anniversary dinner. This Downtown Corvallis gem is a place you’ll want to visit when you have plenty of time to enjoy a visual feast and to chat with Ruby – one of Corvallis’s most engaged citizens.
Ruby, when and why did you start your business? We moved to Corvallis in 1974 so my partner could finish his PhD in a community that fit our lifestyle. I had been teaching and designing computer operating systems for Hartford Insurance in Connecticut, but since the computer industry hadn’t hit Oregon yet, I started my first business, Lighthouse Natural Foods, in 1975. It was originally in the Julian Hotel. Then I moved to a larger location incorporating bulk food, organic meat and veggies, housewares, clothing, futons, etc., besides the vitamins and herbs and Birkenstocks we started with. I always resourced products that were new and needed. In 1980 I divided the business into two separate stores – Lighthouse and The Golden Crane – and moved them both into a building I owned [now WOW! Fitness].
What are your specialties? Our specialties are jewelry and scarves. We have the best selection in town. During OSU Dad’s Weekend, I was visited by two Moms who own jewelry stores, and they said, “You’ve got the best selection we’ve ever seen!”
We also have clothes for every age and every body – clothes that have integrity, which means you’ll own them for a long time. I have a great mix for everyone. I don’t follow other people’s ideas. I’m an “outside the box” kind of person, and my store reflects that. I want people to look good and get compliments when they go out. Often when someone buys a certain item, they’ll come back and buy more. My favorite lines of clothing are Salaam, XCVI, and Stop Staring, which is very vintage inspired. For most of my products, I’ve had long-term relationships with the companies I buy from. A lot are made in the US, from women-owned businesses.
What challenges have you faced as independent local business owner? My challenges are mostly personal – staying excited about what I’m doing. That’s why I’m always trying new things. That’s why the store is fresh. Challenge is good. Growth through challenge keeps you young.
What is the impact of local independent businesses on Corvallis – and what does the future look like for local independents? Local independent businesses are what have made Corvallis what it is. So many people came here because of Downtown’s charm. Small businesses are the ones that connect to the community. That’s what I do – make connections. I’ve known many of my customers for years. I carry history, share history, and connect people with things going on in the community.
As far as the future goes, it’s not going to be easy for our local independents. There’s so much movement away from the Downtown area. More and more people are into immediate gratification, and they’re swapping relationships for the quick fix. They’re giving up the long-term, deeper connection to the community. They’re losing what a deeper commitment to community means. In order to survive as a business, I’m going to have to get into on-line sales, and I really don’t want to!
I’d love to hear from people. How important is Downtown to them? What are they willing to do to keep it vital? Let the store owners know!
What excites or inspires you about owning your business? I’m always excited and inspired when customers are here. It’s all about the people who come through the doors. I love the energy! It’s like you’re in a constant party when customers come in. There are a lot of people who come from out of the area to shop here. People are the key.
What is your relationship to the community? I was a founding member of Jackson Street Youth Shelter, and I served on the board for 13 years. When a close friend of mine died of breast cancer, I became the legal guardian of her four-year old daughter and was blessed by the help from Pauline at Philomath Montessori. I now serve on their board. I was recently appointed to the city’s Commission on Civic Beautification and Urban Forestry, and I’m active in Citizens for a Livable Corvallis. I’ve been a Master Gardener for years. Gardening is one of my passions. I helped start the Peanut Park Community Garden, so I’ve worked closely with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. I’m currently president of the Evening Garden Club, and I’d like to see all the different garden clubs help keep the park gardens going. We all need to step up and start doing more to help our parks. In terms of my business affiliations, I was a member of the DCA for many years, and I’m currently a member of CIBA and the Sustainability Coalition.
How important is sustainability to you and your business? Sustainability is part of my life. When I was 18, I was involved with Nader’s Raiders. So, from very early on, sustainability has been part of my consciousness. I live it! I walk or ride my bike to work. I hardly ever drive, but when I do, I have an ’87 car. I recycle to the max, and I use only half the lighting in the store. Years ago, I went through the Corvallis Environmental Center’s Resource Efficiency program. I’m into conserving resources. I keep things for a long time.
(Interview and article by Annette Mills – December 2, 2012)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).