Basin Department Store, Kennewick’s source of work and safety equipment for nearly seven decades, is for sale.
Stuart Logg worked for the family business started by his father, Don, for 60 of his 69 years and says he is ready to enjoy a relaxed retirement.
The asking price of $1.95 million includes the building, parking and the business, including its inventory of Carhartt boots, gear and apparel, at 111 W. First Ave. in downtown Kennewick.
Logg’s earliest memories date back to packing socks at age 4. His father, Don, bought them in bulk. The young Stuart used a simple metal device that moistened the adhesive labels used to bind the loose socks in pairs. Once the socks were packed, he set a price: 79 cents.
Logg was born and raised in Kennewick and attended Kamiakin High School as a member of the Class of 1974. He did not graduate, losing credit before a degree. It made no difference. He said he rarely went to school anyway.
Basin Department Store would be his on-and-off business home for six decades.
Recalling Kennewick’s wild and woolly early days, he said his father was an inflexible boss who gave him no quarter.
He has been away many times 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 eventually remove him from his adventures.
“I always knew I was going to do this. It’s the only thing I’m good at,” he said.
When his father died in 1991, his mother, Lorraine, found he was only paying their son $15,000 a year for a job that went well beyond full-time. She doubled her salary.
He purchased Basin Department Store from his mother in 1993 and has been its sole owner ever since. For decades he worked seven days a week, all day. In his 60s, he has calmed down and is aware of health issues.
Now 66, he said he and his wife, Sharon, the store’s accountant, were ready to kick back, play golf, work on vintage English motorbikes and just be lazy.
None of his daughters are interested in taking over. He trained his son-in-law to take over and even offered a good deal, but the young man opted for a lucrative medical career instead. Logg holds no grudges.
He wants his family to be happy, he said.
Best year ever
But that leaves him looking for a buyer who appreciates the old-fashioned ways of the Basin Department Store and wants to keep it in business near Auburn Street.
He declined to disclose his earnings, but said it was profitable. He said business thrives when the economy dips.
2021 was its best year as customers sought comfort in its friendly service and raw, no-frills 1950s atmosphere. The business has no debt beyond regular bills, he said. .
“It’s a license to print money,” he said.
Ideally, he will sell to an operator who wishes to continue the business and retain the approximately 16 employees Logg considers family. He said it was worth it for them to stay until he left.
He’s willing to stay if a buyer wants a transition period, a common arrangement when small businesses change hands. Otherwise, if a buyer surfaced on a Monday, they would leave on Friday if that was what they wanted.
If no buyer comes forward, he will sell the property, which includes a 12,550 square foot building and 22 parking spaces on a 0.56 acre corner lot.
A salty story
His father and uncles started the business that became Basin Department Store in 1947. They sold all the wares they could find from tents on Bateman Island. Rifles. Electrical parts. Everything and anything.
Brother Dick started a surplus business in 1952. Don took it over – and his $25,000 debt – more than two years later. Logg was a child when his uncle died, but he remembers a colorful player and a fixture in Kennewick bar culture.
Don Logg purchased the old United States Post Office at First and Auburn streets and renamed the business “Basin Department Store”. It has since expanded four times, 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 dad could be a tough boss, but he was a top-notch retailer. He had worked at a JC Penney Co. in West Seattle after World War II, selling hats.
According to the story, James Cash “JC” Penney himself took Don to lunch and told him he was moving him to New York. Don wasn’t interested in New York or the East Coast.
He instead moved to eastern Washington, which led to the partnership with his brothers.
Over the years, the Basin department store sold hunting and fishing gear, clothing, and workwear. Today, it focuses on workwear such as boots, jeans, overalls and safety clothing.
It supplies the latter to local employers at the Hanford site, the construction industry and food processing companies.
“We have always been a working-class store. We are proud of that,” he said.
SVN’s Rob Ellsworth | Retter & Co. is the listing broker. He is 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.
Another growing niche is Mexican grocers, he said. Off-street parking is a rare bonus downtown.
The building was built in 1953 and it has undergone significant updates in recent years. The property is zoned commercial central business district.