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MaySon’s owners plan to leave store and city behind

Keith May has been a teacher, city councilor and Pendleton historian
Antonio Sierra

East Oregonian

Published on September 28, 2017 8:36PM

Last changed on September 29, 2017 4:06PM

Come Saturday, Pendleton’s only old-fashioned general store will close for good.

According to a letter posted on the front window of the 369 S. Main St. shop, MaySon’s last day will be Saturday.

In the letter, owners Keith and Christina May wrote that opening MaySon’s was a bucket list item for them five years ago, but now they want more time to enjoy their retirement.

“Roughly, 90 percent of our customers are from out of town and they could have kept us going for years to come, but working seven days a week through the tourist season and having little time to visit family and friends around the world has taken a toll,” they wrote.

In an interview on Thursday, Keith May elaborated on their decision.

May said the store, which sold novelty goods, antiques and the Prison Blues Correction Connection line of clothing, was a success and he and his wife had fun running it.

The couple plans to spend time traveling in the short-term, but staying in Pendleton isn’t in their long-term plans either. The couple has put their striking Main Street home on the market, but May declined to say where they intended to move.

May’s impending departure from Pendleton marks an end of an era for a man who became one of the city’s foremost historians.

A retired elementary school teacher, he wrote several books on the history of Pendleton and Eastern Oregon, covering topics like the origins of Pendleton’s street names, the city’s architectural history and the Oregon Trail.

Additionally, May wrote the historical descriptions featured on many of the downtown buildings, led walking tours of Pendleton’s historic homes and was a guest on the Live Wire radio program.

May ran unopposed for a Pendleton City Council seat in 2010 and represented the North Hill from 2011 to 2014. He spent much of his tenure as the chairman of the Pendleton Development Commission, the governing body in charge of the city’s downtown urban renewal district.

Despite his local résumé, May said it was “awkward” to answer a question about what he would miss about Pendleton, claiming an East Oregonian editorial called him a “loser.”

In a 2015 op-ed, the editorial board was critical of May and other local officials who wished to ban marijuana sales, writing, “their cause is a lost one.”

May said he also has gotten into recent conflicts with a couple of local organizations, although he declined to elaborate further.

“I doubt anyone will miss me,” he said.

May had originally considered selling MaySon’s instead of closing it, but the building owner, Pendleton Underground Tours, has other plans for the space, which sits at a prime location at the intersection of South Main Street and Emigrant Avenue.

Pendleton Underground Tours Executive Director Brooke Armstrong confirmed that her organization had plans for the space, but declined to comment further.


Contact Antonio Sierra at asierra@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.


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