Phil’s, “Yes they did have it!”
May 4, 2023 | View PDF
From the April 23, 1982 edition of River Reflections
It was over 40 years ago, back in 1937, when Harold & Flossie Phillips moved to the McKenzie and started their way towards building one of the most unique businesses this valley has ever seen. Starting off with a small restaurant at the junction of the old McKenzie Highway and the then dirt, Mill Creek Road, Phil’s Phine Phoods became a virtual smorgasbord of everything you might need.
It’s was a family affair too, with the original couple’s children and their offspring as well, all putting in a stint at the store that had everything.
Over those years, the story of Phil’s had been one of growth and change to accommodate the needs of the surrounding world. The small restaurant on the banks of the McKenzie was the first to benefit from a building expansion program that saw the first structure added onto 10 different times. A 20 foot extension soon grew on the left side of the building, followed by another 20 feet added on the right, as well as food lockers to the rear. Then there was more building activity along the Mill Creek side. The area where an upright food case once stood was next in line for an expansion that was soon followed up by another 20 foot growth spurt in that area. Finally, four new store rooms completed the Phil’s building.
“We did it pretty much as it was demanded,” said former co-owner, Gene Phillips. “In the winter time we could sell TV’s, refrigerators, freezers, and appliances, all locally. With 109 seats in the restaurant, it was a little hard to fill them all in the winter with only local people, especially with the old road open. only 6 months out of the year.”
The appliance business boomed as the restaurant had before and soon homes all the way from Vida to the McKenzie Pass were sporting TV’s and freezers that had been purchased at Phil’s. The success of those appliance sales eventually affected Phil’s frozen locker business, since so many people now owned their own. Responding to that, the Phillips made another change, removing the lockers and adding a big selection of boots, raingear and shoes.
A “Want List” posted on the wall helped build the store’s huge selection of hardware’ items that ranged from tools to rope, plumbing to paint and electrical supplies to glues.
“All we did was order a few extra of everything when someone wanted one,” Gene recalled. “It may have been a little unusual but it worked for us and pretty soon we had anything you would want.”
Apparently that “Want List” had the ability of working both ways. When it came to the time that brothers Jim and Gene Phillips and their wives Clara and Beverly decided they wanted to retire, the problem of selling a unique business like Phil’s could have been a considerable problem.
But again, the Phillips luck came through. For new owners, they found two couples who were quite a bit like themselves and perfectly suited for the business.
New owners, Jack and Linda McCharen and Robert and Yvonne Mabery were delighted with their unique store, the local area and the people who lived here. They planned to continue the family type tradition started by the Phillips as Linda and Yvonne were sisters.
But times and situations change and so the store was sold once more. Members of the Harbick family, Margaret & Dean, and their son Darin and daughter-in-law Kail, now run the family owned business.
Much to the community’s horror, the old Phil’s Phine Phoods building burned to the ground shortly after the Harbicks bought it. The family relocated the business a block away on the main McKenzie Hwy. and reopened a year later. Much like the Phil’s Phine Phoods of olden days Harbick’s Country Store still carries the slogan of by-gone years: “Yes, we have it!”