Store harkens back to homesteading era

Store harkens back to homesteading era
Hawthorne Country Store at 675 W. Grand Ave. in Escondido. Photo by Steve Horn

With San Diego County being a rapidly developing area and an influx of home development projects constantly in the works, it’s easy to forget that the county exists in the territory once referred to as the “wild, wild west.”

Escondido’s Hawthorne Country Store, though, maintains a back to the land ethos and sells products for those seeking more self-reliance at their homes. With coordinates at 675 W. Grand Avenue at a historic site which has for more than 100 years served as an animal feed business, the store features an array of farm animal feed products, canning goods, gardening products, sells various varieties of chickens and small chicks, has several pigs on-site and also a whole section dedicated to products for horses and horseback riding.

It’s a store which seemingly would feel more at home in a place like Nevada or the mountain west than in suburban Escondido, but serves as a sign that many people living in North County still maintain a mentality of self-reliance, store owner Heather Thelen told The Coast News. Thelen also said that the self-reliant spirit exuded by her parents is what served as the motivation to open the Hawthorne Country Store to begin with.

“My mother’s parents were missionaries and they did not have a lot of money. They were gleaners and taught my mom to preserve available food for future use. She then used these skills throughout my childhood,” Thelen explained. “She made our clothes, there was never room under our beds because they were always full of canning jars, full and empty, and we skimmed the cream off the whole milk and made butter. My dad raised project animals as a kiddo and brought home elk and squab from hunting trips. We grew a large garden and propagated fruit trees.”

As North County becomes increasingly developed, Thelen noted, this set of skills has nearly gone by the wayside among most people. She hopes the store can help change that.

“I learned that those skills were not only rare, but maybe endangered. That became a core to what we do now,” said Thelen. “North County is becoming more and more populous and the large animal backyard market is moving further and further out.”

In that vein, the Hawthorne Country Store will serve as the convener of the Escondido Homesteading Arts Faire, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Hawthorne Country Store.

“Beekeeping and cheese making will be just two of the demonstrations taking place at Hawthorne Country Store’s annual fall Homesteading Arts Faire,” explains a store press release announcing the event. “The all-day event is designed to connect those that do, teach and sell homesteading arts with those that wish to learn, purchase and experience products and skills from our heritage.”

Other forthcoming events for Hawthorne Country Store include the Fall Family Flock Festival set to be held on October. The Country Store also is serving as a sponsor at this year’s Escondido Tamale Festival held at the city’s Grape Day Park on Nov. 3.

Beyond its Escondido location, the Hawthorne Country Store also has another storefront in Fallbrook. For more, keep up to date on sales and events happening at the store on the company’s Facebook page.

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