Nestled into the warm armpit of The Horsehead Bar on Broadway downtown, Thunderbird Market deserves a big fat pat on the back. The locally owned convenience store (co-owned by the owners of Horsehead and Jameson’s Bar) has had some hits over the eight years it’s been open.
Namely, it’s on Eugene’s tiny version of The Corner, a hotbed — according to many downtown businesses and denizens, as well as crime statistics from a website the EPD directed EW to check out — for meth and heroin deals, prostitution and public defecation.
In spite of this, the staff is always welcoming, chatty and helpful, jamming out to great tunes from heavy metal to ’80s pop. While the store carries all your favorite munchies, they also feature local grub, like delicious fresh-made sandwiches from the Horsehead.
“We stay for that,” manager Jeff Keim says of customer service and Thunderbird’s regulars. “We care about the community.”
Keim says they have tons of neighborhood regulars who keep the job rewarding. “I like the people,” he says. “You get to meet a lot of interesting people, 90 percent of whom are nice.”
It hasn’t been easy for the Thunderbird crew to stay positive, however, as Keim says the illegal activity going down on the corner of Broadway and Olive can scare off customers.
“It’s worse than I’ve ever seen it,” he says. Keim says he wants to make it clear he has no interest in blaming the homeless — explaining that many of them are polite, regular valued customers — but he is concerned that no action is taken against the people committing obvious crimes outside the shop, many of which involve minors.
“It would be nice if they would enforce the law,” Keim says of city leaders and law enforcement.
As far as keeping its community happy, Keim adds that Thunderbird encourages customers to dictate what products are on the shelf, instead of vice versa.
“We do try to do things our own way,” he says. Well, Thunderbird, keep on keeping on. And thank you.