I was sorry to read that Puck’s Doughnuts was closing. The shop had been open for 11 months when my husband Emile and I purchased it in 1976 as the third owners. Puck’s soon became the “gather spot” for Ashland and, as they say, “if only these walls could talk.”
We had such interesting people visit Puck’s, usually daily. I knew what time of the day it was by who was there. The morning started with the “old timers” at the corner table, which included “Rattlesnake Bill.” Since this was pre-cellphone days, if someone wanted the city administrator, chief of police or fire chief around 9:30 a.m., the first call was to Puck’s. Later in the day Spud Corliss would stop by and maybe Ed Roundtree. They could always fill us in on what was really important happening in Ashland. Late morning might find Rex Rabold or other OSF actors.
For those who couldn’t get to Puck’s, they could still have our doughnuts, which were delivered daily to convenience stores from Ashland to Eagle Point and became about 70 percent of our business. People would stop in who had been to Puck’s when they were in high school to see the plays and wanted to relive that experience. A Sacramento Bee food editor went so far as to write that Puck’s Doughnuts was the only place worth stopping between Sacramento and Portland. We even got mail once that was addressed just to Puck’s Doughnuts, Oregon.
So why was this little business successful when others were failing in the early '80s? First of all it, was a comfortable place to come and chat or just relax, and we didn’t tell on who was eating a doughnut along with their coffee. Kids grew up in Puck’s. Both of us were there every day and we were both very involved in the community.
My thought on why a business is successful in a small community is: It needs to be owner-operated. The owners need to be involved in the community and it needs to offer a product or service that the locals want, need and can afford. I think Emile and I, through Puck’s, filled that bill.