After more than 20 years of business at 4142 N. E. Sandy Blvd., Noel Hislop closed Celtic Corner in February. He took a few minutes to reflect back.
When did you open Celtic Corner?
Hislop: Twenty-three years ago. 1993. I thought I might do it for four or five years.
How has the Hollywood district changed in that time?
Hislop: Dramatically. Fred Meyer closed. There was a community police station in the theater. The Christian Science Reading Room was there for a while, too. And Hendrick McGuire Optometry, Hollywood Cafe, a night club, a game shop and a lampshade store. I’ve seen changes up and down the street. I think Hollywood might be reaching its prime again right now.
And you remember the 1997 fire that burned down a nearby building?
Hislop: I was getting ready for work that morning, and my daughter saw it on TV. She said, “You want to see this.” Later, after I arrived on the scene, I was across the street when the main wall came down. Everyone ran up 41st Ave., followed closely by the smoke from the wall falling.
What did you do before becoming a shopkeeper?
Hislop: Metal fabrication. My father was a tinsmith. He made gas meters for the Dublin Gas Company. They were coin-operated meters. Back then, someone from the gas company would come around to your home once a month or so and collect the coins. You’d give him a cup of tea, and he’d sit down at your table and count out the coins. When people wanted heat and did not have a coin, they got pretty creative with what they tried to slip into the meter. So Dad got skilled at getting jammed meters working again. I learned about the terminology and the trade from my dad.
What are some of the biggest sellers at Celtic Corner throughout the years?
Hislop: Jewelry. Irish dancing shoes. Barry’s Tea is a specific Irish tea people ask for. It’s a learning process (what to stock) and I made many mistakes. I got a few things right, but they are outnumbered by the number I got wrong!
What is the oddest request made by a customer?
Hislop: A customer wanted me to order a $5.00 key ring that was only available from Ireland. It would have cost plenty more to get it over here, if they would have let me order just one. A few people wanted to buy the shop.
Any other thoughts?
Hislop: 99 percent of the customer base are great people. Some have been customers for all 23 years. The shop has been sort of a social club. I’ve made many friends.
Celtic Corner will continue selling some items online that were previously available in the store. For more information check out its Facebook page.