Two Birds, One Store

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    Once upon a time, there was a big store with a huge bird in front of it that had everything. It had Boy Scout uniforms, a big toy section with a life-sized LEGO Pirate man, and a pet section with birds, turtles, and best of all, this huge lizard called a Gila monster! Through the eyes of a six year old boy, wonders such as these made Yard Birds the best store in all the world. Little did I know just how much these fond childhood memories of mine paled in comparison to the true grandeur that was once the Yard Birds Family Shopping Center.

In “Skinny and Fatty: the story of Yard Birds,” producers Rob and Karma Hugo piece together the life story of the family-friendly business brought into the world by co-owners Rich Gillingham and Bill Jones; and illustrate how the two friends raised and nurtured their store from little army surplus tent to a big shopping center franchise recognized all across western Washington and beyond.

    To be honest, “Skinny and Fatty” actually made me envious of the last two generations, because they got to experience Yard Birds first-hand. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy a store where the newspaper ads were as funny as the funnies, whose owner would ride his unicycle through the hallways and serenade his employees with saxophone music, a store which, for Christmas, would deliver Santa Claus with a helicopter; a store whose pet section once actually sported live monkeys and alligators!

    Running at 88 minutes total, and sadly lacking any of the “special features” which made DVDs so popular, “Fatty and Skinny” makes for a nice relaxing evening at home, and still leaves time for dessert afterward. Keep in mind, the film is still a documentary, so if you’re easily distracted from anything devoid of heart-pounding drama and/or explosions, this may not be for you.

    However, if you have an interest in local history, have ever actually shopped at Yard Birds, or just want to keep your students quiet for an hour and a half, then this is definitely the film for you.

    Four nostalgic sighs out of five.

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    Ethan Fick, 23, is a graduate of Centralia High School and Centralia College.