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(Seattle & Northern 1890)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition Stories & Photos
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit.

Covers from British Columbia to Puget sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan. An evolving history dedicated to the principle of committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Vern Sims Ford Ranch
sold to North Cascade Ford:

      The biggest Sedro-Woolley business sale in the last couple of decades was completed in mid-April 2003 when Travis Coulter bought Vern Sims Ford Ranch. Vern Sims has owned the dealership for nearly forty years and began working for the franchise back in 1949. Len Livermore started the dealership in 1910 in an old garage on State street where Marketplace Foods now stands.
      The sale was not a surprise because the possibility had been discussed on the street for some time. Manager Dan Sims told the Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times that "we tried to be really fussy about the person buying it." The Sims family will remain in Sedro-Woolley and will concentrate their business efforts on three other family dealerships, so they wanted to make sure that the new owner would be a good fit with the community.
      This is the biggest news since Skagit Steel sold to Bendix Corporation in 1969. That was a different kind of sale, however, because it involved the sale of a locally owned corporation to a national company and there were other sales after that as the company became a division of larger entities who shopped it around. The Ford dealership will remain a local concern.
      Coulter began in the business by selling cars for Vern Sims in the early 1990s and he told the Courier-Times that he began preparing at least 12 years ago to eventually purchase a dealership on his own. In the interim, Coulter owned and operated a financial-services company based in Mount Vernon that was geared toward the automotive industry. His roots are definitely local and he is in the process of selling that company.
      "My wife and I live in Mount Vernon now," Coulter told the Journal this week, "but we plan to move the kids over to this school soon and immerse ourselves in the Sedro-Woolley community and its activities."
      Livermore rode Henry Ford's revolutionary auto marketing plan to rapid success here locally. A 1911 newspaper article noted that he was selling autos as soon as they could be delivered in a railroad car. Back then there was less than a mile of paved road in the city and the roads both in the rest of the county and statewide were a mess of potholes, mud and dust that often produced a flat tire or two in a short journey between here and upriver communities or Mount Vernon. After selling cars briefly out of the ground floor of the brick building that still stands at the northwest corner of State and Metcalf streets, Livermore built his own dealership a half block north in the building now occupied by Oliver Hammer Clothes Shop.
      In 1922, Ford pulled the dealership over a dispute with Livermore and Emil Jech moved up here from Bend, Oregon, to take it over. Ford was then known as the Universal Car, and in November 1924, Jech opened the Universal Motor Company at the east end of Woodworth street. That building is now occupied by the Sedro-Woolley Museum. He operated there until 1944. Sig Bergman, a former logger and airplane stunt pilot in the area, began selling cars for Jech during World War II and eventually bought out Jech's interest sometime in 1944.
      Lloyd Palmer, former garage mechanic and manager for both Jech and Bergman, recalls that after World War II, Bergman became painfully aware of the space limitations.
      "Ford Trucks became one of the biggest sellers and we did not have room to properly maintain them," Palmer noted. Berglund soon started looking for a piece of land where the dealership could grow and he decided on the present Ferry street location in 1949. That had formerly been the site of a boarding house and the early Frazee hospital, plus Lentz and Nelson Feed and Seed. In October 1949, Berglund opened the new store where the main building is now, eventually buying the Lentz site for a parking lot, along with the old Interurban Depot lots across the street. Vern Sims helped tear down the old St. Charles Hotel on the corner on the south side of Ferry street.
      Sims originally started in the company as a bookkeeper in the late 1940s after graduating from college. His sales responsibilities grew gradually until the early 1950s when he and Wayne Peters and the late Bob Wilcox became a very successful sales team for Berglund. When Berglund decided to retire in the mid-1960s, Sims achieved a seamless transition over to his ownership and that seems to be what the family wants to achieve with this sale. Over the years, the Sims complex has become an important local business as well as attracting shoppers from all over the state and British Columbia. The garage specializes in RV maintenance, which makes it very important for travelers and those returning to the area to visit or for reunions.

Story posted on April 23, 2003
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Heirloom Gardens Natural Foods at 805B Metcalf street, the original home of Oliver Hammer.
Oliver Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 82 years.
Bus Jungquist Furniture at 829 Metcalf street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 36 years.
Schooner Tavern/Cocktails at 621 Metcalf street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, across from Hammer Square.

Peace and quiet at the Alpine RV Park, just north of Marblemount on Hwy 20
Park your RV or pitch a tent by the Skagit river, just a short driver from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley.

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