Blackshears to retire: , payment center closed, Santa Paula Plumbing closing soon
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: January 02, 2013
Since 1979 Boyce Blackshear has been known as the man to go to when you needed plumbing supplies, tools or fixtures. And since about 1991 his store has also been the place to pay your bills - and that means just about any bill you can think of.
That was until Friday, when Blackshear and his wife Anita stopped representing hundreds of companies as a payment center from their Yale Street business. Next, said Boyce, “We’ll clear that plumbing stuff out” through a big clearance sale, “sweep the floor,” and then close the doors for a final time on Santa Paula Plumbing.
Retirement will be different for Boyce: he’s worked since he was 12 years old, starting when “my folks bought” what is now R&R Market on Ojai Road in 1945, and “developed it into a real grocery store.” He opened Santa Paula Plumbing on East Main Street in 1979 - where the building once stood is the South Paseo - and moved into the Yale Street building in 1994.
Boyce and Anita “started taking the bills 21 years ago,” initially collecting payments for The Gas Company and Southern California Edison. Over time, said Boyce, “We brought computers in and added and added and added” clients who wanted to make bill payment easy for their customers.
Now, Boyce noted, “there are 200 companies we represent,” from bank credit cards and insurance companies to department stores and online specialty shops and everything in between.
So vast has the bill payment portion of the business become that plumbing supply sales became almost secondary. “We collect payments about eight hours a day,” said Boyce, “then run over and wait on a plumbing customer in between.” The Blackshears collected an average 2,000 to 3,000 payments a month, but “Some months we’ve taken as many as 6,000.”
Has anyone ever tried to make a payment with pennies? “No,” said Boyce, who has change rollers for those customers who might try to pay with change. “I can do that for them, but I’m not going to stand there and count” out change, although Boyce admits when presented with dollar bills in the past “I did my job and counted it.”
Now he and Anita are more into counting grandchildren and the ways they plan to spend more time with family. “We’ll help Randy,” their son, by “helping to baby-sit the grandkids... we have another son Bernie and a daughter Kim,” and a total of eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. “We’ll have three great-grandchildren in April,” added Boyce.
Other than that, “I don’t know what I’ll do.... People keep asking and I keep telling them whatever I feel like - when I wake up at noon!”
“He’ll go fishing,” said Anita.
“I’ll let my boys take me,” Boyce said. “It’s something I haven’t had the privilege of doing for some years.”
Another regularly missed opportunity is coming up again, but Boyce said this year he plans to make a family reunion held in Arkansas. “I think I’ll go to that... I haven’t been able to do so before and most of those folks I haven’t seen in 50 years!”
For now Santa Paula Plumbing remains in business, although chances are Boyce already put out “a big Going Out of Business sign for the big sale.... We’ll probably stay open a minimum of a few more weeks” to get everything sold.
One thing that can’t be sold are memories: “We want to thank all the wonderful people in the city of Santa Paula for all their support for all these years,” said Boyce. “They’ve definitely been nice to us and we’re going to miss them.”