Midget Motors to close after more than five decades
More than a half-century ago, a family business emerged in Newberg whose owners spent the better part of the past few decades selling and servicing outdoor power equipment for local residents and out-of-towners.
Midget Motors has served generations of customers at its shop on Third Street, but that service is coming to an end Nov. 25 when the business closes for good.
The business's co-owners, Sam Hulse and his brother, Don, carried on the tradition of Midget Motors from their parents, who started things off in Portland in the 1960s.
"Back in March of 1965, my folks got an opportunity to move from the Oregon coast to southeast Portland, buying into a business that was actually a go-cart track at 94th and Powell," Sam Hulse said. "That went on for several years, and we've been doing DDA motors ever since 1967, when the portion of the business opened up in Newberg."
The brothers took over in 1980 and spent four decades fostering relationships in the community while providing an essential service. Thousands of pieces of outdoor equipment came through their shop that was either sold, repaired or tinkered with.
Hulse likes to say that anything one could use outside that "isn't fun like a motorcycle," they would work on it. Anything with a small, gasoline engine was their specialty — like weed whackers and lawn mowers — and they built up a strong customer base working on that equipment.
"It's bittersweet because we're ready to retire, but we'll be leaving behind a hole for all the folks who have been counting on us all these years," Hulse said. "We appreciate them more than they could ever know. They're the reason we've been successful and made a living in what used to be a little town. It's not a little town anymore, but it still has the small-town feel.
"I'm over 65 and my brother (Don) is going to be 68 here in a few weeks. It's a physically demanding job, and that's what led to our decision to retire. We've tried pretty hard over the last couple of years to find somebody to come and take it over, but it's such a specialized industry and you kind of have to grow up in it to truly learn it."
Hulse said that, once retired, he plans to travel by RV around the country and find ways to do some part-time work when he's in Newberg. After four decades of doing his job six days a week, he can't quit the work he loves cold turkey.
When the business closes its doors the day before Thanksgiving, Hulse said he and his family will be giving thanks for all the years of business and friendships they developed in the community.
"We've made a lot of friends over the years," he said. "I've watched kids grow up and take over their family business, and now they're about my age. It's been a multigenerational thing, and we've built up a lot of loyalty among the folks who have come in and out. Our goal was to treat people the way we liked to be treated, and that's what I hope we did."
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