Downtown staple VanDyke Appliance still selling strong

by: COURTESY PHOTO - Ted VanDyke represented the second generation to take over the appliance store. Ted VanDyke was famous for three things in 1940s Forest Grove: his mules, his winemaking — and selling appliances.

VanDyke Appliance is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.

Ted started an appliance shop with his partner, Dick Fendall, in downtown Forest Grove when World War II ended and demand for more modern, time-saving appliances skyrocketed.

VanDyke had worked for Fendall in his hardware store until they became partners in 1944. In 1954, Fendall retired and VanDyke became the sole owner, paving the way for the four-generation family legacy and a modern community staple that maintains its old-time feel.

VanDyke Appliance has occupied its current location since 1989 after moving from across the street where Theatre in the Grove’s Main Street Studio now resides to secure more space.

“I always kind of knew I wanted to take it over,” said Pete VanDyke, who makes up the third generation of VanDykes running the shop along with his sister, Becky VanDyke. “When I was a kid, I saw grandpa and dad working together, and it was neat.”

Pete admired his grandpa Ted and his dad Glen, who worked well together.

Pete has a few memories of his grandpa — mainly him tinkering in the shop; bringing his homemade wine into the store for holidays and special occasions; hitching up his mules “every chance he got,” according to Pete, for weddings and parades in town; and the stories of him walking to Forest Grove every day from his Verboort farm to work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Pete and Becky started working part-time making deliveries when they were 15 years old. Eventually, after graduating from Oregon State University with a degree in business management, Pete helped take it over from his dad, who eventually “retired,” which to him meant only coming in five days a week.

Now Glen just stops by to visit. “We have a lot of memories,” said Glen, who took over the shop after serving in the military and trying out seminary. “We always tried to help and do a good, honest job and sell at a fair price.”

His son believes in the same philosophy.

“Most things in here are necessities and we can provide them on a local basis. It’s nice to be able to live and work in the same community and get to know a lot of the community members,” Pete said.

Since the start, the family has seen Ted VanDyke pass away, Glen retire along with his long-time secretary Thelma Vanderzanden, and many surrounding independent businesses fold.

“It’s neat for the community to still have an appliance store,” Pete said. by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: MICHELLE THOMAS - Pete and Becky VanDyke are carrying on a family tradition by selling appliances to residents of their hometown.

VanDyke’s relies on that sense of community to compete with the big box stores, such as Lowes and Home Depot. They supply parts, used and recycled appliances, offer installation and at-home repairs (only once has a chest freezer gotten stuck in a shop doorway), make warranty and after-warranty repairs, and provide preventative maintenance services.

They’ve also added mattresses, recliners, and barbecues — perhaps most famously the bright pink barbecue that sits in their storefront window.

Western Washington County’s population growth has helped out, too, giving them “still plenty of opportunity,” Pete said.

“It’s changed a whole lot. Safeway used to be downtown where Valley Art is now,” Glen said. “But I’m absolutely glad the kids took it over. They’re doing a good job, and carrying on the tradition.”

Pete’s son and niece also work there part-time.

“We’re just really privileged and excited [for the future],” Pete said. “We hope to do it for many more years.”

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