Celebrating Sue




Country Roads is very sad to share the news that our matriarch passed away last week. Sue Jackson was a hurricane in a Hawaiian shirt, walking these floors for nearly 30 years, telling stories, making people laugh, and teaching everyone around her lessons in kindness and resiliency on a daily basis. Generous to a fault, funny, tough, and thoughtful, her presence was central to our shop from the day she opened it in January of 1993, all the way until the last day she was last here, just a few weeks ago on Halloween. There is simply no way of expressing how much we miss her and how hard this past week has been.


The stories we have heard over the last few days - adventures in looking for dead rodents, effective ways of dealing with obnoxious customers, acts of generosity - have been a reminder both of what we have lost, but also of the legacy she will leave.


Her three children that will carry on her work - Brande, Katie and Bryce - were quite literally raised in this shop, and she provided countless first jobs to SO MANY other people who consider her family, too. She loved her sister, Teri, her son-in-law Vinny and daughter-in-law Justine, and, let’s be honest, above all else, her five grandkids: Riley, Bodhi, Morgan, Brooklyn and Charlie. She looooved being a grandma, and in recent years, it came to define her as much as her business did - if you came by the shop, you’d hear about her grandkids, and she’d ask about yours.


She built a business that taught her kids how to work hard, how to persevere, how to count change in their heads, how to do what is right…and it also provided them with a second family. Carol, Yesi and Matt were her ‘other’ kids, she loved them just as fiercely as her own, and they are grieving her loss just a deeply. We are very grateful for their dedication to keep the store running for us this past week, though it was an incredibly difficult thing for them to do, and a huge thanks also goes out to Cheryl, Penny and Sharon for coming in and working too, even though they are also in mourning.  A big thanks to the many of you who reached out and offered to help us this week as well, it’s really an incredible testament to how much love she created in these walls over the years. We appreciate every single one of you - and we did Sue right, the last thing she would have EVER wanted would be for us to close up for a day to spend time crying! :)


Born in Long Beach in 1951, Sue threw up in the cafeteria line in the third grade when she was at Patrick Henry elementary school, but ran off and blamed it on another kid. In high school she liked to sing along to the Beach Boys, using her mom’s ironing board as a surfboard to complete the experience …until it collapsed under her one day. She was also fond of interrupting her sister Teri’s church group meetings by playing ‘Maggie’s Farm’ on repeat very loudly. She went to sooooo many awesome concerts in the late 60s and 70s: the Rolling Stones were her favorite, but she also saw Elton John and the Who and Simon & Garfunkle among many others.  She attended CSUF in the early 70s, a double major in sociology and American Studies. She frequently volunteered on a Navajo reservation in Arizona while in college - many years later, the family that she stayed with on the reservation came and visited her family when she was living in Lakewood.  She was the whole world to her kids when they were little: the room mom, the cheerleader, the one pushing them to try a little harder, and to be a little nicer. She carried that same energy into being a grandma, too – she was ALWAYS there for her grandkids. She was a huge huge huge presence in the life of those she loved. She was a hilarious friend and could always be counted on to stir up a little (or a lot) of good natured shit.


In 1992, she opened up her first store, Battered Barn, on south Glassell. Her parents had been into antiques, restoring and selling at swap meets after they retired in the 1980s, so perhaps it was in her blood. She opened up Country Roads in January of 1993 and has been the heart of the shop ever since. She loved to write about the ‘batshit crazy Sundays’ at the store (people ARE crazier on Sundays!) on her blog (mycountryroads.blogspot.com) and her least favorite thing to hear from a customer was “I have a question...”, because, for reals, just ask it already, lol! She was a writer, publishing both on her blog and in letters and in articles for all sorts of antique publications and the Orange Plaza Review. All those stories from those 28 years of business? Well, they are gonna take an entire book to tell.


So we are going to try to do a book - it was always her dream to publish a collection of those stories, and we are going to try to make it happen. We hope to throw a big 70th birthday party for her next summer, if we are able to. We are having a small semi-private event for her this Sunday in our garden; if you’d like to attend, please reach out. But what we are going to do above all else is ensure that her legacy lives on.


At the end of the day, she loved nothing more than going out to eat with her family or friends, or to be sitting in her backyard listening to her iPod with her Bose headphones and a Corona. As I write this, I am doing that very thing to honor her as best as I can…but really, there is simply no way to put into words what she meant to us. We have a huge hole in our hearts right now, one that will one day, we know, not feel so quite empty, but one that will never totally be filled up, either.


If you’d like to honor Sue this week, we have a few ideas. She really lived by the idea of ‘because nice matters’, so, try to do something nice, big or small. Donate to Joanie’s Purse Project; they collect toiletries and bags for women in need and distribute them throughout Orange County, Country Roads is a drop off location. Make a donation to the Seal Beach Animal Shelter. Have a Corona and toast her. And please share your stories with us - we love hearing them, it keeps her with us.


She created something really incredible with Country Roads, and that is a legacy that her three children and her grandchildren will continue. One of the best things that happened in the last few months was that Sue got to work with her oldest grandchild, Riley, as Riley started to learn the business. She got to see that the next generation was in place, learning and growing from this thing that she created, and it means the world to us. When people ask ‘who is in charge now?’ we will tell them that Sue still is - the choices we make, the way we continue on is done with her guidance.


There is no way we could possibly say aeverything we want to say about her in this one post. So we won’t. We’ll continue to tell her stories and laugh and put into practice what she taught us, and keep her with us every single day as we continue to keep this incredible business that she built going strong for the next generation that will learn and grow from it like we did.