By Matt Scotton
EUGENE, Ore. — The rain is coming down in Eugene typical fashion causing the people who were sun bathing not 24 hours ago to take refuge inside. The umbrellas begin to make their triumphant return with those who are brave enough to venture outdoors. Despite the near torrential downpour outside, inside of the Red Barn Natural Grocery is nice and warm.
The walls of one of the oldest natural grocers in Eugene are lined with local products throughout the building. On the other end of the store working hard behind the counter is whiteaker resident James Larkins. He smiles to everyone who walks past him and they can not help the urge to smile back his way. The argyle vest he is wearing is juxtaposed to his plaid shirt.
Larkins says that “Eugene has a magnetism to it.” There was just something special about Eugene, and the Whiteaker neighborhood specifically, that drew him in. It only took two trips to Eugene for Larkins to know that this was the place he wanted to live. Larkins, originally from Humboldt, California, moved to Eugene about a year and a half ago.
After getting to Eugene he got a job working at the Eugene Whiteaker International Hostels. The first day that he was in Eugene, Larkins went to the Red Barn Natural Grocery and immediately thought “I need to work here.” When some of his friends were passing through Eugene they stopped there to pick up a couple of things. He laughs that his friend immediately called and said “Dude, you need to work here.”
Unfortunately they were not hiring at the time, but that all changed three months ago. That is when Larkins finally got a job there. Larkins says that “it’s a business I can believe in.” He spends his time at the Red Barn Natural Grocery as a barista and in customer service in addition to preparing soups and scones. He loves his job so much that he says that he actually dreads his days off.
Fifthteen years ago Larkins started playing jazz guitar and on his days off he spends his time playing music. He says he is just a regular guy who enjoys reading, writing and meeting people. In addition to playing the acoustic guitar, he also dabbles with piano and bass guitar. These keep him busy when he is not at work.
Justin Green has worked at the Red Barn Natural Grocery for two years and feels the same way that Larkins does about it. Green says that “James is a great guy to work with and he is always happy to see everyone when he comes in to work.” There is a social aspect there that is lacking in a lot of other businesses. The people are just better connecter there. Green and Larkins couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.