A gift shop near the eastern edge of The Dalles’ downtown business district might be a little bit off the beaten track, but for local shoppers it would be well worth it to search the store out. Cannon Packer, located at 1006 E. Second Street – just across the road from the Sunshine Mill Winery – prides itself on providing “comforts for your home and friends.”
When you open the door and enter into this shop, you’ll immediately notice the aroma of scented candles and other fragrant goods. The store is well-lit and filled with colorful items that would make wonderful gifts for people with a variety of different interests and tastes. Colorful glasses, pancake mixes, jams, candles, greeting cards, towels, soaps, clothing, kitchen items, dishes – there is a potpourri of gift ideas on display in this inviting, friendly business.
“We’re kind of an experience of taste, touch, feel – things that appeal to the senses,” said Linda Smith, who co-owns Cannon Packer with her husband, Bob. “We wanted to be creative and do something that is beautiful and useful. Our specialty is Pacific Northwest foods. We focus more on food lines during the holiday season.”
Linda and Bob started selling attractive gift items way back in 1989, and the unusual name of the company originated from where the couple previously lived.
“We came from Cannon Beach, that’s how it started,” said Linda. “We were in Cannon Beach for three years, and put together gourmet gift baskets to sell.”
Cannon Packer has been in The Dalles at its Second Street location since 1999.
“We’re kind of a destination location,” said Linda. “It’s kind of out here by itself, but our main clientele is women, and if a woman wants in a shop, she doesn’t care if the business is on a hill, she’ll climb up.”
One newer item is a line of colorful “Hydro-Flasks,” which come in a variety of sizes and are used to hold either hot or cold liquids.
“They have been real successful,” Linda said. “Someone gets one and ends up coming back for another one. Kids from sports teams are in here for them, and a lot of farmers, too.”
Linda said ideas for what goods the store will carry come from a variety of sources.
“I go to markets and gift shows in Las Vegas and Seattle, and we get customer suggestions, too,” she explained. “Occasionally, employees on vacation will bring back items to consider for our store. That’s how Hydro-Flask came in.”
The store is open from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. After Thanksgiving, the store will also be open on Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Including Linda, Cannon Packer has a total of five employees who share time working in the store, and all of them are used to handling a variety of different duties, especially if they happen to be working alone when the store gets busy.
“You have to multi-task, but people are very patient,” said Jennifer Hattenhauer, who added that she likes working at Cannon Packer because the business is an interesting one, and the staff has a lot of fun.
“I like all the people who come in,” Jennifer said. “I like the clientele. It’s just a cozy place, and I love all the products. It’s fun, especially this time of year because you’re getting product. It’s like Christmas, when you open boxes and see what’s coming in and put it out on display.”
“We kind of look forward to the holiday season,” added Linda. “It gets bustling. As soon as Thanksgiving is over, we go right into Christmas. Even in October, we already have people shopping for Christmas.”
In another special feature, Cannon Packer offers a bridal registry as well as a baby registry, so people can make a list of what they might need, and gift-givers can come in and check the lists for ideas. And the store’s employees are happy to gift-wrap items from the store.
“We do free gift wrapping of items year-round,” Linda said. “That’s kind of a lost art.”
And it’s not just a basic gift-wrapping, either. Employee Carolyn Kortge puts her own unique stamp on packages when it comes to wrapping, individually painting some of the materials used to package goods purchased in the store.
“She’ll paint them, or she’ll put buttons or ribbons on the packages,” Linda explained.
And Linda pointed out that the staff is always happy to offer advice to help visitors decide on gift ideas.
“So many men come in and say, ‘I don’t know what I should get her,’” she said. “We like to be helpful.”