Taylorsville’s 105-year-old Cash Register
By Kayla Anderson
Story and photos by Kayla Anderson
ABOUT A HALF-HOUR outside of Quincy on Highway 89 in a quiet area amongst grassy fields and surrounded by snow-dusted mountains lies the tiny town (population: roughly 160) of Taylorsville.
The centerpiece of Taylorsville is Young’s Market, a 157-year-old staple that was built by the Young family back when it was a thriving mining, logging and ranching town that hosted four other markets, seven bars and three hotels. The population diminished over the years due to various wildfires, but Taylorsville has managed to stay a close community for those who are looking to live a simple existence off the beaten path.
Young’s Market is managed by Kelly Tan, who took over the store seven years ago and runs it with her family. The upstairs portion of the building was previously converted into a living space, but when Tan moved in during the fall of 2012, she realized that it was far from comfortable.
“It rained a lot, it was cold, and then the bats moved in,” Tan says. “The fireplace (downstairs in the market) was the only source of heat we had,” she remembers. The market wasn’t in much better shape.
“The walls were lined with motor oil, fishing tackle, and the windows were blocked with refrigeration,” Kelly says of the dark, dungeony space. Premade sandwiches hung out next to sugary sodas and live earthworms in a case that now strictly holds meat.
With the cold weather, resident bats and inefficient living/working space, Tan and her family rolled up their sleeves and got to work renovating the building. In the market, they pulled out the bright orange carpet down to the original wooden floorboards, knocked out some of the plaster to show the brick underneath, and made other improvements to lighten the place up. It took five years to complete the renovations and Tan says the space is in good enough condition now to get through at least another 100 years.
Young’s Market may be renovated, but the history of Taylorsville is also very much restored. The walls of the brightly lit market are lined with black and white portraits of residents from the 1800s, and functioning artifacts that have also withstood the test of time.
“I thought this town was so charming, like a little place forgotten in time. When I arrived in Taylorsville, I was curious about what the story is here. So, when the Indian Valley Museum is closed, you can come here to see some of the history,” Kelly says.
Plenty of the old is mixed in with the new, like the meat case presumed to be from the 1930s and a scale from the 1940s that the staff uses to weigh meat. However, the true star of Young’s Market is the 105-year-old still-functioning cash register.
The National brass and wood model is about two feet wide and a foot deep, with push buttons and three cash drawers. She has a birthdate of October 19, 1914 (imprinted on the machine) and has the original oil can nearby to help keep her functioning. (Although the cash register doesn’t have a name, Kelly did give it a gender. “We decided it has to be a woman if she’s been working for over 100 years, doesn’t complain, just shows up and does her job, and she looks so grand every day,” she says.)
In a quick demonstration, Kelly points out how to ring up an item and how to use the crank to clear the machine for the next sale. In the bottom cash drawer, there are three keys that open the side and clear the day’s totals, but if a key is left in or any part of her is out of place, the cash register won’t work.
“Everything has to be in its exact position to work and then it will run forever,” Tan has realized in operating it over the years.
It keeps generations of people coming back to get that hint of nostalgia or to simply appreciate having their change counted back to them the old-fashioned way. It is a conversation starter and looks magnificent (and maybe a bit intimidating to staff), fitting in well with the rest of the historic décor. Along with the ancient cash register, Young’s Market is a comfortable place to grab a bottle of wine, a whiskey fennel burger (or any other necessities), sit next to the fireplace and listen to the cha-ching sound of commerce still taking place since Northern California’s mining days. •
Young’s Market • 4368 Main St., Taylorsville
Hours: Daily, 8am-6pm • (530) 284-7024
Kayla Anderson is a freelance writer, marketer and action sports enthusiast who grew up wakeboarding on Lake Shasta and learning to ski at Mt. Lassen.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chico State University and loves to visit her parents in Redding.