With the start of the New Year, there will be a new owner of The Paper Place, the greeting card and gift store in Sisters located in The Gallery Annex at the corner of South Elm Street and West Hood Avenue. However, the ownership of the store will remain in the family. After 31 years of operating one of the longest-running businesses in Sisters, Bob and Jerry Petersen are selling their store to their daughter Kara Calmettes.
Bob was raised in Hillsboro and had a long career as a dentist in Cedar Mill. Jerry was raised in Salem and worked many years as a dental assistant both for her husband and for another dentist. Like many Sisters residents, they first were part-time visitors to Sisters looking for a place to relax from the challenges of everyday work. Searching for a vacation home in the area, they purchased a cabin on the Metolius River.
"Once we started spending time here, Jerry told me that this is where she wanted to live," Bob recalls. "So we made the move and lived in the Metolius River area full-time for the next five years."
When they made the move, the Petersens had one daughter in the eighth grade at Black Butte School, another daughter at Oregon State University, and a son in graduate school at OSU.
When Jerry saw that The Paper Place was for sale, she convinced Bob that they should buy it. The Petersens purchased the store in 1982. The store had two previous owners in a small section of The Gallery Annex. Merchandise sold at the store was primarily paperback books, magazines, and a few greeting cards. The Petersens took over the store in the early winter, but after a very slow winter, they realized that they needed to diversify their products if they were to survive. To do this, they attended trade shows in Seattle and Los Angeles looking for new items to sell.
"As soon as we added a greater variety of greeting cards and gift items, our business really took off," Bob remembers.
However, he is quick to point out that the real success of their business must be credited to Jerry. For several years, he continued his dental practice with another dentist in Salem, spending four days a week in the Valley while Jerry ran the store. Over the years, they were able to triple the room for their store by acquiring neighboring space in The Gallery Annex as it became available.
The Petersens moved to a larger house in the Camp Sherman area and for a short time ran a bed-and-breakfast. However, after finding that to be a labor-intensive business, they closed that operation. They also ran a store in Bend for a short time. As their Sisters business continued to thrive, they moved to a home in Sage Meadow north of Sisters to be closer to their work.
For the past two years, they turned the daily operation of The Paper Place over to their daughter Kara. During this time, they spent one winter in Green Valley, Arizona. However, following two knee replacement operations for Jerry, they will be remaining in Sisters this winter, enjoying their new home at the west edge of town.
The Petersens have enjoyed the part-time help of a number of high school and college students with some of the recent ones graduating from college last June. In addition, they have benefitted from the help of others. "Marlene Wysong has worked there every Friday for 24 years," Jerry states. "She is the most loyal, wonderful friend and employee that you could ever ask for."
Recently, the Petersens had many of their employees gather at their house to look back over the years. They credit these people for much of the success of their business.
"They were really instrumental for the success of the business, and were caring and supportive with their work for us," Jerry says.
In looking back over the past 31 years, Bob likes the changes that have come to Sisters, but hopes that an improving economy will soon reduce the number of vacancies he sees in the business section of town. Both Bob and Jerry are optimistic about the future of Sisters and believe the traffic improvements being planned will benefit the community.
Now that they have arranged for Kara to purchase the business, they are ready to enjoy their retirement and spend time with their family - including six grandchildren. Kara has two children. Daughter Kristen Newton and her husband have four children and live in the Sisters area. Son Erick has followed a career in business and lives in Bend.
When asked what advice they will offer their daughter as she assumes ownership of the business, Jerry is quick to respond: "She doesn't need our advice. That woman is a 'one-man band.' She grabs the ring and off she goes."