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The B & C Story
Told by Current Owner and Son Rob Pottenger
Seems hard with to believe that all began 52 years ago. My father was 18 years old;
newly married, had a new baby (me), and was struggling to make ends meet. Matter of
fact they didnʼt meet. He was in need of a job, as his current employment, down at
Yakima Meadows horse track, shoveling you know what, for $20. a week got old, real
He had received word that a local garment manufacturing company called Baileyʼs
Manufacturing, who made blue jeans for Sears & JC Pennyʼs needed help in their
shipping department, so He applied and was hired. He started out in the shipping
department where He had worked for one year.
As he was about to make a change and go to work for Boise Cascade, the company
manager of Baileyʼs approached my father and asked if he would be interested in
learning to repair and maintain industrial sewing machines. Seemed like a great
opportunity since the company owned and operated over 400 industrial sewing
machines used for garment construction, and besides – it paid more money. Thatʼs
where it all started. For the next six years he served the company as one of two sewing
machine mechanics for the company.
In 1967, Sunset Sportswear, a jacket manufacturing company, based out of Seattle,
who had several plants, one located in Moxee a suburb of Yakima, called and offered
my father the head mechanics job, where he would spend the next nine years.
During my last couple of years with Sunset sportswear, word got out that he knew
industrial sewing machines. He started to get calls from local drapery and upholstery
shops looking for somebody who could service their machines since there was nobody
around doing it. So after hours and on weekends he would travel and service small
businesses and their machines. The calls kept coming and it came to a point where
there was more outside work than he could handle. With the uncertain future of Sunset
Sportswear, he decided to launch out and start his own business. His very first shop
was in our garage. He had a show room that consisted of one Consew Industrial
Walking Foot Sewing Machine designed for upholstery. Wow, what a show room. He
wasnʼt too concerned since the bulk of his business was simply traveling around and
servicing drapery and upholstery shops. He had all the work he needed. Times were
After his first year he was in need of help so he hired his brother Carl to help carry the
load, and thatʼs where the name B & C originated. My father, Bob, moved the shop
from our garage to a little store front on main street. He spend about a year in that
location then moved to a larger location where they operated for about a year. After a
tough year, and a struggling economy, Carl went back
to driving truck and dad moved the business back to the garage. Once again business
picked up and he had all the work he needed. All of a sudden, it was 1980, I, Rob, the
newborn son was 18 years old and looking for a job. At the time the Singer company
who had been in the Yakima Mall for some time and sold hundreds of machine had
moved out and was gone.
As most people are aware, Singer sewing machines is what our mothers and
grandmothers and our grandmothers mothers sewed on. When you thought about
sewing machines the first name that came to mind was Singer. So here we are in
Yakima, with literally hundreds if not thousands of Singer sewing machines and there is
no one around to service or take care of them.
During the transition time from Singer Company owned stores to independent locally
owned stores my father was approached by the Singer Company and offered an
independent franchise. He was already selling Pfaff sewing machines out of the garage
on a small scale, however, if we were - to take on the Singer name it would require a
store front and help.
I, Rob took a real interest in the business so we took on the Singer franchise and began
to look for a location to operate from. It was September, 1980. We had acquired the
old small grocery store and transformed it into a sewing machine shop. I will never
forget it. Here we are, my dad and I painting and remodeling the building to get ready
for business. We had put up a sign in the window that said “Singer Store – Coming
Soon” - we got bombarded with people bringing their machines in for repair. The store
wasnʼt scheduled to open for another two weeks and we already had over 75 machines
come in the back door to be serviced. It was unbelievable. When we officially opened
the doors for business, October 1st, 1980, we started with six new Singer Machines and
six new Pfaffʼs, a few sewing notions, three cabinets, and one Industrial sewing
machine and a bunch of repair.
Interested rates at the time were over 20%, but that didnʼt seem to matter, the valley
was excited about the new sewing store. As the business rapidly grew we hired on an
extra employee and continued to expand. In the early 80ʼs the trend was moving from
sewing stores to sewing and vacuum stores. At the time we had no vacuum
experience, but the demand and request for vacuum sales and service continued to
increase and we soon had to address the growing demand. Besides, seemed like a
win-win situation, I mean surely everyone who sewed owned a vacuum cleaner. In
1982, we officially launched into the vacuum sales and service by adding Eureka and
Hoover vacuums. We also carried a large variety of bags, belts, and accessories. It
was a slow start, but grew steadily. In 1983 we took on the Riccar vacuum line, and
thatʼs when the vacuum business exploded. I remember when there was a period of
time when we were ordering 100 at time. It was unbelievable – it was fun – and we
became well established as Yakimaʼs first sewing and vacuum store. In 1986, we
moved the store to its present location on Yakima Avenue. We expanded our product
line by adding Baby lock sewing machines and sergers, Royal All-Metal Vacuum
cleaners, the German made Miele vacuum cleaner and the Easy-flo built-in vacuum
systems. Today we specialize in Babylock sewing products, Sebo, Miele, Riccar, Royal
and Oreck Vacuum Cleaners.
At the present time we employ four full time and three part time employees. The store
has received numerous awards for itʼs excellence in sales of Singer, Pfaff, and Baby
lock sewing machines and is currently the number one producing store in Eastern
Washington for Sebo vacuum cleaner sales and and we also serve as an Elite Dealer
for Baby Lock Sewing Products.
My father, Bob, has since passed away (March 2012) and my son, Bobʼs grandson,
Bobby joined the business four years ago. As I look back over the years from my father
starting out in the shipping department of Baileyʼs Manufacturing – I just want to say
thank-you to my father who dared to dream big, stepped out by faith and made the
dream come true through allot of hard work, dedication and prayer.
In closing I just want to say that dreams do come true. It starts with a vision, hard work,
dedication, proper staffing, great product, great service, competitive pricing, and more
importantly – staying focused on the fact that you are the people business. If you follow
these steps – you canʼt help but to be successful.