Spencer’s Appliances at 7115 NE Glisan Street will permanently close its doors on February 1st after forty years of serving the community. The new and used appliance store’s owner plans to retire, renting out the three commercial buildings on NE Glisan Street to the next generation of businesses. Several employees have formed a new company and will open their appliance repair store later in the year.
Eugene Spencer started Spencer’s Appliances with his son in the early1980s after retiring from the military as a refrigeration specialist. “I started with my father, Eugene, in 82. He was doing stuff out of his house because he retired from the Navy, and he just started tinkering around keeping himself busy,” remembered John Spencer. “I was working at a seed mill in Tangent, OR. I went to college for a couple of years, and college wasn’t for me. Then my dad called me and said you want a job? Come up here and work for me.”
Ben Schafer, the owner of Cash and Carry Appliances on NE Glisan, wanted to relocate his 30-year-old business to SE Hawthorne, allowing the Spencers to set up shop in an established location. “There was a pre-existing appliance business here, and the guy wanted to move to a bigger building. So we bought this building,” explained John Spencer. “This was a good location, and we had people walk in the first day and buy an appliance from us because it was an appliance business before.”
That early success gave the Spencers confidence, particularly John, who at 21 was new to the business. “I still remember going, ‘Holy crap,’ there’s people in here buying stuff. I didn’t know anything, and then we started fixing appliances and selling them. We eventually got a GE dealership. It just took off from there.” Said John Spencer. After growing the business together, the father and son team added an employee. “It just slowly but surely got busier and busier, and then we hired Wes.” Wes Swisher had also retired from the Navy and knew Eugene Spencer. According to John Spencer, Wes was instrumental in the growth of Spencer’s Appliances. The business continued to expand year after year, eventually employing 20 people.
By 1984, the appliance shop outgrew the original storefront at 7123 NE Glisan, so they constructed the current showroom next door. In 2000, the company completed a new warehouse building at the corner of NE 71st Avenue and Glisan Street. Both newer buildings support apartments on a second floor above the commercial space, creating six units. The Spencers eventually bought the land one block east, building the Glisan Plaza at 7201 NE Glisan Street.
Twenty years ago, Eugene Spencer stepped away from the appliance business, leaving John in charge. “He was a great boss. We worked six days a week for 20 years, and then he retired,” recalls John Spencer. In 2012, Wes Swisher also retired. Both are healthy and enjoying their time away from work. Around the time Swisher left, John Spencer became concerned about Glisan Street. Car thieves have repeatedly stolen his service vehicles, and miscreants often vandalized the buildings. In 2019, a driver collided with his store and fled the scene. John Spencer enjoys the new families that have moved to the neighborhood and the business taking root around his shop but seeing the negative shift along his street is disappointing. “I think it is the worst I’ve seen it, the crime that you see walking up and down the street.” Said, Spencer. The shift in public safety and labor issue stemming from the pandemic have encouraged John Spencer to retire from the business. After searching for a buyer interested in running the store for seven months, he and his family decided it was better to shut down the company.
John Spencer will miss the daily interactions that have made his career enjoyable. “It’s all about the people. I just like meeting neighbors and talking to people. It was my social time. You go into people’s homes and learn things from their experiences in life. 90% of the people you deal with are just beautiful, down-to-earth people.” Spencer will also miss solving problems for customers. He takes pride in fixing someones vexing appliance problem and seeing the relief it gives people.
John Spencer is happy with the company his family built in Montavilla and the impact they have made on the lives of those who worked there. “It kept my family fed, and I think I’ve created a lot of jobs. I’ve got ex-employees that still do appliance stuff. There’s people that have found a career because they walked in the door one day looking for a job,” explained Spencer. “It’s been a wild ride.”
Promotion: Montavilla News has a Patreon account. We invite those who can contribute to this local news source to please consider becoming a paid subscriber or sponsor. We will always remain free to read regardless of subscription.