Wanted: new owner for old-fashioned Kennewick store

 

Basin Department Store, Kennewick’s source of work and safety equipment for nearly seven decades, is for sale.

Stuart Logg has worked for the family business started by his father, Don, for 60 of its 69 years and says he’s ready to enjoy a relaxed retirement.

The asking price of $1.95 million includes the building, parking lot and business, including its inventory of boots, Carhartt gear and apparel, at 111 W. First Ave. in downtown Kennewick.

Logg’s earliest memories are of packaging socks at age 4. His father, Don, bought them in bulk. Young Stuart ran a simple metal device that moistened adhesive labels used to bind loose socks into pairs. Once the socks were bundled, he’d slap on a price tag: 79 cents.

Logg was born and raised in Kennewick and attended Kamiakin High School as a member of the Class of 1974. He didn’t graduate, falling a credit shy of a diploma. It made no difference. He said he seldom went to school anyway.

Professional home

Basin Department Store would be his on- and off-again professional home for six decades.

Recalling Kennewick’s wild and woolly early days, he said his father was an unyielding boss who gave him no quarter.

He left on numerous occasions and once spent two years building swimming pools in North Carolina, where he met his first wife and mother of his two daughters.

The store would pull him back from his adventures, eventually.

“I always knew I was going to do that. It is the only thing I am good at,” he said.

When his father died in 1991, his mother, Lorraine, discovered he’d been paying their son only $15,000 a year for a job that went well beyond full time. She doubled his salary.

He bought Basin Department Store from his mother in 1993 and has been the sole owner ever since. For decades, he worked seven days a week, all day. In his 60s, he’s eased up and is mindful of health issues.

Now 66, he said he and his wife, Sharon, the store’s bookkeeper, are ready to step back, golf, work on vintage English motorcycles and be plain old lazy.

Neither of his daughters is interested in taking over. He trained his son-in-law to take over and even offered a good deal, but the younger man opted for a lucrative medical career instead. Logg has no hard feelings.

He wants his family to be happy, he said.

Best year ever

But that leaves him looking for a buyer who appreciates Basin Department Store’s old-school ways and is interested in keeping it in business near Auburn Street.

He declined to disclose revenue, but said it is profitable. He said business thrives when the economy dives.

2021 was its best year as customers sought comfort in its friendly service, raw no-frills 1950s atmosphere. The business has no debt beyond the usual invoices, he said.

“It’s a license to print money,” he said.

Ideally, he’ll sell to an operator who wants to continue the business and retain the 16 or so employees Logg considers family. He said he’s making it worthwhile for them to stay on until he leaves.

He’s willing to remain on if a buyer wants a transition period, a common arrangement when small businesses change hands. Otherwise, if a buyer surfaced on a Monday, he’d vacate by Friday if that was what they wanted.

If no buyer emerges, he’ll sell the real estate, which includes a 12,550-square-foot building and 22-space parking lot on a 0.56-acre corner lot.

A salty history

His father and uncles started the business that became Basin Department Store in 1947. They’d sell whatever merchandise they could find from tents on Bateman Island. Rifles. Electric parts. Anything and everything.

Brother Dick started a surplus business in 1952. Don took it – and its $25,000 debt – over two years later. Logg was a child when his uncle died, but he remembers a colorful gambler and a fixture in Kennewick’s barroom culture.

Don Logg bought the former U.S. Post Office at First and Auburn streets and renamed the business “Basin Department Store.” It expanded four times since, including taking over the parking lot of what had been a Safeway store. Traces of the post office remain along the front wall.

Logg said his father could be a challenging boss, but he was a first-rate retailer. He had worked at a J.C. Penney Co. in West Seattle after World War II, selling hats.

As the story goes, James Cash “J.C.” Penney himself took Don to lunch and told him he was moving him to New York City. Don wasn’t interested in New York or the East Coast.

He moved to Eastern Washington instead, leading to the partnership with his brothers.

Working-class store

Over the years Basin Department store sold hunting and fishing gear, apparel and work wear. Today, its focus is on workaday wear such as boots, jeans, overalls and safety apparel.

It provides the latter to local employers at the Hanford site, construction industry and food processing businesses.

“We’ve always been a working-class store. We pride ourselves on that,” he said.

Rob Ellsworth of SVN | Retter & Co. is the listing broker. He’s optimistic that a buyer will want to take over. But if not, he speculates the property could be sold as a new outpost for a similar retailer such as Grigg’s or Ranch & Home.

Mexican grocery operators are another niche that is taking off, he said. The off-street parking spots are a rare premium in downtown.

The building was built in 1953 and it has had substantial updates in recent years. The property is zoned commercial central business district.

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