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NOW AND THEN: Jane and John Hyder in front of their 7-Eleven franchise the day before retiring earlier this week and in February 1982 (below) when they took over the store. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

In nearly 35 years as franchisees of the 7-Eleven at the corner of Lockhaven Drive and River Road, John and Jane Hyder have seen as many as four generations of the same families come through their store.

Until they retired on Tuesday, Dec. 13, it wasn’t uncommon for the children of regular customers to drop in and ask if they remembered them from years, sometimes decades, before.

“It happens a lot around the holidays when family is back in town,” said Jane. “Most of the time they have to give me clues, but it really helps if they bring in their kids because I can look at them and see the resemblances from when the parents were their age.”

The Hyders said the regular customers and their families are the things they’ll miss most about the work.

“We have one guy we call ‘Decaf John’ because he comes in about the same time every day and gets a large decaf coffee. We always make sure to have a fresh pot on when he gets here,” John said.

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The Hyders have seen a lot of changes in the past three decades, in their business and in Keizer as a whole.

They have an aerial photograph of the 7-Eleven store taken a few years after they purchased the franchise. The place that is now Creekside Shopping Center is still a field, there is no Dairy Queen or apartments hemmed in along the side and back of the building, there isn’t even a stoplight at the intersection. Keizer hadn’t become its own city when they bought the franchise.

“The Marion County Sheriff’s Office provided police and they kind of used our back counter as a work substation and the store as a place to use the restroom,” John said.

In the early years, Jane would work the day shift and John would come in on evenings and weekends. They ran the entire business mostly by themselves with the help of their kids, Jill and Troy. Troy returned to the shop after graduating from Oregon State University and has worked there for 21 years himself, but he’s also going to pursue other interests as his parents depart.

“Everything was clerk-served. If you wanted a Big Gulp, you ordered it at the counter and we served it. There was no self-serve back in those days,” Jane said.

The offerings have also changed. When the Hyders took the reins, 7-Elevens focused on basic convenience store fare of bread, milk, soda, beer and candy.

“Now it is more of a food store with hot and cold food in addition to all of that other stuff,” Jane said.

When the opportunity arose to take on the other 7-Eleven down the street on River Road North, they purchased that one, too, and retained ownership for 26 years. The Hyders sold that stake in 2009.

John said technology has had one of the biggest impacts.

“We’re saving a lot of trees now. Everything used to be done on paper, but now the system 7-Eleven uses takes care of most of it, including ordering product,” he said.

The Hyders have no agenda for what comes next. John wants to get the garage cleaned up, but after that he wants to start volunteering as a way to stay connected with the many customer-friends he’s met over the years.

“I’m going to miss all of our regular friends and customers and staff. They’ve all made our lives easier over the past couple of years and I cannot thank them enough,” John said.

Jane summed it up with a tagline the convenience store used many moons ago, “Oh thank Heaven for 7-Eleven.”