Angie Solis, owner of DB Cooper Appliances in Chehalis, never expected her store to grow the way it has in the past year.
“We started from our barn about a year ago, me and my family,” Solis said. “And we just started getting more and more stuff.”
Solis operates DB Cooper appliances with her the husband, Donald Byron Cooper, for whom the store is named, in an allusion to the famed 1971 plane hijacker.
Solis and Cooper relocated from Los Angeles — where they owned a used appliance store for ten years — to Silver Creek three years ago.
“All I wanted to do was fish and hunt,” Cooper said.
After selling appliances from their home for two years, and then briefly at Mary’s Corner, the two opened a 6,000-square-foot space on NW Chehalis Avenue.
“We just got so overwhelmed with stuff that we had to get a bigger building,” Cooper said. “And then we got this and it turned into a snowball rolling down a hill … The next thing you know you can’t fish any more.”
Front-loading washing machines have been the store’s biggest draw recently.
Cooper explained that the store has several advantages over larger used appliance retailers.
“We get appliances like trade-ins, scratch and dents, and recondition them and sell them with a warranty,” Cooper said. “We offer a 90 day warranty and then we give them what we call a one year parts warranty, where we’ll go and [make repairs] for what the part costs. We don’t charge them labor or anything like that.
“The 90 day warranty is pretty standard in this business,” Cooper said. “But when you give them the year parts warranty it just works out better for them. It gives them more peace of mind … We’re trying to do a good thing for the people, because this is a small town and word travels.”
Solis emphasized the store’s flexibility with customers as another draw.
“We’ll work with you, work with your budget. That’s what I like about this store,” Solis said.
Cooper, too, emphasized the store’s customer service.
“We stand on our head to make stuff right with customers,” Cooper said. “Down the road if something happens we’ll make right by it. Bad word of mouth travels a lot faster than good word of mouth, so we just try to do whatever we have to do to make customers happy.”
The response in the community, according to Solis, has been overwhelming.
“A lot of people say they need something like this down here in Centralia and Chehalis,” Solis said.
Said Cooper: “Basically from Portland to Olympia, there’s a void there … Honestly we get more work than we can handle.”
In addition to used appliances, the store deals online in parts such as motors and control boards, selling merchandise across the country.
There are currently five employees at DB Cooper Appliances, though Solis and Cooper hope to continue to grow. They plan to open a parts store at the location in the near future, and beyond that, create a service division for repairs beyond their own merchandise.
“We have a lot of people calling for service work and we just don’t have the manpower to do everything right now, as far as covering all these areas,” Cooper said.
Additional locations might also be in the store’s future.
“We’re hoping to [keep expanding] say next year or something, to maybe another location,” Cooper said.
But despite the future ambitions, Solis is pleased with how the store has grown in such a short time.
“It’s been a dream come true for the both of us,” Solis said. “We’ve been very lucky here. You start in your barn, and you grow to this. It’s inspirational.”