Hart Mountain Store owner receives loan, reports best year

Danielle Jester

Mon Nov 23 2020 08:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Thanks to a $165,000 loan from Southern Central Oregon Economic Development District (SCOEDD), Hart Mountain Store owner David Heath is able to refinance another loan he received on the business and use the remaining funds for some upgrades.

Thanks to a $165,000 loan from Southern Central Oregon Economic Development District (SCOEDD), Hart Mountain Store owner David Heath is able to refinance another loan he received on the business and use the remaining funds for some upgrades. The Hart Mountain Store is especially important to the Plush area, as it is the community’s only store, only gas station and only restaurant.

Heath has been running Hart Mountain Store for nearly 16 years and has made many improvements in that time. He applied for the SCOEDD loan previously but did not receive it. Last winter, he said, SCOEDD Exec. Dir. Betty Riley contacted him and asked if he was still interested in the loan. Heath said he was; he credits SCOEDD Rural Development Specialist Ginger Casto with working on the loan and helping push it through.

The interest rate on the SCOEDD loan is 2% lower than what Heath was paying on the loan he refinanced. He noted happily that under the terms of the SCOEDD loan, his first year of payments will go entirely to paying down the principal; interest doesn’t begin to accrue until after the first year.

With the money left over after refinancing his original loan, Heath plabs to make flooring improvements and add a f’real brand self-service milkshake machine for customers.

Heath has spent 57 years in Lake County and was a buckaroo at the MC Ranch when William Kittredge still owned it. Prior to purchasing Hart Mountain Store, he ran a tavern in Lakeview for 27 years.

While Heath is not the original owner of the Hart Mountain Store, he focused on making the business’s hours and offerings more consistent. When he took it over in 2005, he said, he spent approximately $25,000 to make upgrades.

When COVID hit, Heath said he was concerned about how it would affect his business. Despite the pandemic, 2020 has been the store’s most successful year. Heath believes the amount of patrons the store has received this year is partly because so many people were running from cities and heading for wide open spaces. “They were camped on every rock out here in the desert,” he described.

Hart Mountain Store has set sales records nearly every month since the pandemic began. With the exception of July, records were set from February through October.

Heath tries to keep “a little of everything” on hand at the store. The restaurant offers hamburgers, French dip sandwiches, chicken baskets, shrimp baskets, and a slew of other items.

Heath thanked people in Lake County, especially the Warner Valley community, for supporting his business.