By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer–
On February 16, Gaye Honeycutt, owner of the Old Onyx Store, announced that the store had lost its lease and will close. The store, located at 23002 Highway 178 in Weldon, will have a close-out sale this weekend, March 18 and 19, from 11 am until 4 pm. (The sale may extend to next weekend.) The store is closed today, Friday, March 17. The owner of the Onyx Ranch, Rosedale Rio Bravo Water District, will be subdividing the property and terminating her lease.
“I just hope and pray somebody turns this into something absolutely spectacular,” says Honeycutt. “That is my honest prayer every night that something good happens to this place. The bottom line is that I extended its life for 21 years.”
Just off the road between Kernville and Walker Pass, the store is known for unusual imported foods, including ramen, sweets, and chocolates from Russia, England, and Scotland, plus more candy and goods from other parts of the world. Everything goes, including prints of the iconic painting of Onyx Store by Kelly Pankey, signed by Pankey and Honeycutt.
Honeycutt embraces the history of the building. Although she says she doesn’t have concrete verification of dates, she provides this story: “The store has been in this location since 1912. The original structure was built in the 1800s. The business started on the other side of the lake in the the1850s. In the early 1860s, it moved to this area, against the mountain directly behind where it is now.” In 1880, the store’s current structure was built and considered the new store. “In 1912, the road, now known as Hwy 178, was cut through, and at that point, the store was put on logs and mule team, taken apart and rolled over here and set up again.”
There have been many owners. William Scodie started it all; he cooked for all the travelers coming through and the settlers in the area. He had a general provisions store. In the early1900s, the store became a source for everything; they could procure anything you needed. For years it was a meat market. At one time, it was famous for its homemade sausage. “In the 1920’s it was a boarding house hotel. They had rooms they rented out to silent film stars.”
It closed after 9/11. “The untold story of 9/11 is that many small businesses went out of business. Retail hit the skids.” If retail stores didn’t have items that were so necessary that people were still buying them, they didn’t survive.
It took Honeycutt nine years to get through the restoration/permitting process. She was working with the then owners, Rudnick Estates Trust, who sold the property to Renewable Resources, “who recognized the value of the store to the community and the importance of being in support of the store.” In August 2010, they opened part-time, and that October opened full-time.
Honeycutt has a positive attitude and will move to another state to open another store in a historic building. She wants to tell the community, “We greatly appreciate all the support we’ve received from our customers in the Kern River Valley and Ridgecrest over the past years.”