Yard Birds Movie Ready for Viewing


    After three years of research and filming, former Centralia resident Karma Hugo says she is more excited than nervous to show off the fruits of her and her husband Rob’s labor.

    The Anacortes film-makers have completed their first project, “Skinny and Fatty: The Story of Yard Birds,” and are preparing to show it to the public for the first time.

    The premier of the new documentary will be on July 18th at the McMenamins Olympic Club Hotel and Theater in downtown Centralia. Two showings, one at 3 p.m. and one at 6 p.m., will be open to the public and the DVD will be on sale for the first time.

    The movie examines the history of the Yard Birds franchise, which began in 1947 when boyhood friends Bill “Fatty” Jones and Rich “Skinny” Gillingham started a war surplus store in an old garage on the corner of Harrison Avenue and Yew Street in Centralia.

    The surplus store evolved into a Western Washington empire which ultimately folded under economic strain in 1996.

    After three years of work, Karma says she is ready to show the product.

    “For the last year we have been living and breathing Yard Birds every waking moment,” she said. “It’s nice to be at this point.”

    A trailer for the film is available online, and features interviews from customers and former employees who shed light on the importance of Yard Birds, which at one time had locations in Olympia, Shelton and Chehalis.

    Rob and Karma, both 1989 graduates of Centralia High School, said the idea for the film was sparked during an evening gathering with friends several years ago. Their taste for filmmaking came from work on local public access television and a children’s program in King County.

    The couple hope to have a second showing following the Olympic Club viewing, where 40 tickets will be available to the public for each showing on a first-come, first-served basis. The cost of the tickets is $3.

    Karma said she and her husband will continue to update the Web site they created to chronicle the history of the stores, www.yardbirdshistory.com.

    “The one thing we would like to do is to continue to collect stories,” she said. “There’s a lot we didn’t use and stories we weren’t able to tell.”

    Eric Schwartz: (360) 807-8245

Skinny and Fatty: The Story of Yard Birds (Trailer) from Rob Hugo on Vimeo.