There has been a buzz around town for quite some time as to what will be the eventual outcome of Hamley & Company. It was founded by Parley Pearce and Blair Woodfield. The bankruptcy of Woodfield changes everything as to who now will own this historic company.
Over the years Hamley’s has become an Eastern Oregon Old West icon — the western store in particular since 1905 — the oldest business in Oregon still in the same location (according to Travel Oregon). The Hamley Western Store, driven early on by the worldwide renowned Hamley Saddle Company, alone has had some pretty famous cowboys in the early years grace its portals — the likes of Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill Cody, Monte Montana, Hoot Gibson and Tom Mix — and made saddles for Roy Rogers and his contemporaries. I mention this because of the significance with which Hamley’s is to our Pendleton history.
It has come to the attention of many in this community who I know that with the bankruptcy of one of the Hamley partners (Mr. Woodfield) that Mr. Pearce intends to buy his partner’s interest in the business. It’s my understanding an offer has been made to the bankruptcy court and accepted, with the exception that a third party has a small window of time in which to make an “overbid.” Many around the community know the Confederate Tribes have intended to make an offer.
Mr. Pearce has remained the one partner that doesn’t want to sell to any bidder — including the Confederated Tribes. He has spent nearly a life’s fortune and years of passionate investment into preserving Hamley’s historical integrity, with many of the artifacts in the western store and steakhouse from his own Wild West collection. It’s pretty well known that the Confederated Tribes continue to have their eyes on Hamley’s and certainly would enter any bidding with a much bigger checkbook.
It is my belief and experience in helping to preserve similar historic locations in Pendleton that protecting Hamley’s traditional significance (as is) is a whole different venture than even the monumental accomplishments that the Confederated Tribes have built on their own reservation properties. Who knows what their business plans for Hamley’s would be, especially in regards to owning the oldest saddle company and keeping the traditional western ambience that attracts so many visitors.
If the Confederated Tribes owned the Hamley property and put those properties back into a CTUIR trust, a big question is: would the city of Pendleton lose that tax revenue? What would happen to the longtime employees? Does the Old West business model change?
As much as I admire the Confederated Tribes' contributions to Eastern Oregon, I call upon them not to bid on Hamley’s and keep this Pendleton historical resource in the hands of one who rescued, rebuilt and has the passion for preserving this great old landmark.