Sweet Potato Pie has been selling clothes, hemp products and local glass art for the last 16 years. Now the future of the store is uncertain as the lease for that location ends on Oct. 31 and the neighboring business, Addictive Behaviors, expands into the space.
“I have a limited amount of time to make a very serious decision,” says Elizabeth Thompson, owner of the store.
Thompson says she started Sweet Potato Pie as a booth at the Saturday Market in 1994 with a lot of clothing she made herself. A few years later, funding from a local entrepreneur gave her the ability to move her stand to the corner store where it has stood for 16 years, the same age as her daughter, who was born shortly before the store’s opening.
Although Sweet Potato Pie has been a long-standing part of the Eugene community, it has not always been easy to keep going. When she’s not at the store, Thompson works as a manager at Goodwill, so she can “take care of myself but also pay my employees.”
In addition to her employees, many local small businesses have benefited from Sweet Potato Pie. “Eighty percent of my store is locally made. It’s why I’m not ready to give up. I’m not the only person who depends on that income,” Thompson says. “There’s a person behind every product in this business.”
The news that her lease was ending was sudden, but Thompson is hoping to find a new location before Halloween. Currently, she’s keeping her eyes fixed on the Whiteaker. “I want to go where it feels like a neighborhood,” and the Whit has that community feel she’s looking for. If she can’t find a new location, the only option is closing down the store.
“I feel really grateful I’ve had 16 years, I just hope I get another 16,” she says.
Find Sweet Potato Pie on its Facebook page at http://wkly.ws/1ju.