b'PAGE 6 Hoquiam history/ NATIONAL CLOTHESLINE / JANUARY, 2020n the past century, Economy Clean- dozen years. got to treat people the way they want For 12 years I volunteered at theI ersofHoquiam,WA,hasbeen The elder Protheroe worked at a full- to be treated because if they like you, schoolandIrananafterschooljazzgreatlyinfluenced,forbetteror time capacity until he was 84; he didnt theyllkeepcomingback,hesaid. band for the Hoquiam school districtworse, by spotted owls, luxury yachts pass away until he was 95. He attrib- Sometimes people bring something in so I met a lot kids through that, heand even the 1906 San Francisco earth- utedhislongevitytostayingbusy. here and theyre like, How would you said. A lot of those kids that I metquake. Many of his friends had retired and do this? I can tell them how I do it at through the band program there knowAt least its not a boring history. passed away a few years later while home, how they can do it at home. Im me and come here.ItbeginswithfounderEdward Edward continued to outlive them. not trying to turn business away, butProtheroe, grandfather to third-gener- sometimes thats just what it is. You n fact, Jeff still plays live music everyationownerJeff,whoworkedasa hen Jeff began to work full give them the best way. They value that I week for his church and with an 18-bushel man for the Levi & Baer clothing W time in 1980, the business was and they remember that so the next piece big band known as the Dukesstore in town in the early 1900s. at least 64 years old (though time they come back. ofSwingplayingeverythingfromIts like a tailorand nobody uses he knows the location housed another Sometimes, they keep coming back drums to guitar to a variety of brass in-that term anymorebut the differenceis a tailor would take and measure youup to create a suit that fits you. A bushel Jeffman would take an already made suitoff the rack and alter it to fit you, Jeffexplained.The city of Hoquiam erupted in un-precedented growth as a result of theSan Francisco earthquake of 1906; the Protheroetown, after all, was heavily steeped inthe logging industry.The sawmills in Hoquiam cut allkinds of wood to rebuild San Francisco.That made kind of a boom in the area,he noted. When that boom quit, therewas kind of a recession created by thatand my grandfather was actually laidoff by Levi & Baer.As he tried to find work in Califor-nia, Edward remained in contact withhis future wife, Stella, who was proba- cleaners as far back as 1906 in the same even after they move over 200 miles struments.bly the precipitating factor that lead building). During the years that fol- away. Hoquiammaybeasmalltownhim back. With his friend, Bob Storey, lowed, the Protheroes spent consider- I have a customer who lived here (about 8,500 people), but its strategi-he began Protheroe & Storey Cleaners abletimeupgradingequipmentand who moved to the Dalles, Oregon, and callylocated,whichofcoursehelpsand Dyeworks in 1916. offering new services. they still have friends here, Jeff said. Economy Cleaners. As part of GraysThenamedidntstick.Whenthe When I started, we had all manual They bring me their cleaning when HarborCounty,itsnestlednearthepartnershiponlylastedacoupleof presses, Jeff recalled. We went to air- they come to visit because they cant coast of the Pacific Ocean, which hasyears, Storey moved to the other side operated presses. find anyone down there who does the resulted in a surprising boost to busi-of town to start another cleaners while They also updated to a gas boiler, quality of work that I do. ness from an unusual source.Edward dropped Storey off the name addedashirtunitandbegandoing Theres a luxury boat builder thatand then later decided on Economy their own shirts, as well as adding uni- he word-of-mouth for the busi- has two manufacturing facilities, onein the 1920s. formstotheirrepertoire.Theyeven T ness is so strong that Jeff hasnt in Westport, which is out at the coastadded a pickup location in Montesano. seen enough need yet to create a fromhere,stillinGraysHarborromthestart,thecompany,no Everything was going well until the website or a Facebook page. He may be County, he noted. When they build aF matter its name, offered dryclean- northern spotted owl was doing badly. right; there were close to ten dryclean- new boat, they want all of their sheets,ing services and pickup and deliv- ers around the area when he was a kid, towels,allthatstuff,cleanedandery. nJuneof1990,theU.S.Fishand now only two remain. pressed, because they dress the boatsAt one point, they used a bicycle. I WildlifeServicedeclaredtheowl Ihaveaprettygoodreputation when they send them out with the newThen they had a Model A, Jeff noted. threatened and it wasnt long be- around here, he noted. I have lots of owner.Edward and Stellas son was actu- fore the government intervened. people who come in and say, I just These arent just regular boats, ei-ally named Jeff, though he went by his Habitat land was set aside following moved here and talked to my neigh- ther. Westport Yachts grandest offeringmiddle name Edward. He was in col- various legal arguments, and its hard borsandmyneighborssaidthisis is its Westport 164 Tri-Deck Motory-lege in 1940 when his father died of to say if it has helped the spotted owl where you should go. acht that accommodates twelve guestscancer. At the age of 20, he stepped in population much in the long term. To- It has now been about 40 years since in unsurpassed luxury.to help his mother. day, there is estimated to be less than Jeff opted to follow in his familys foot- Some of the sheets are a thousandThey worked together until the war 2,400pairsleftinBritishColumbia, steps, and he has no intention of leav- dollars a set, thousand count sheets thatbrokeout,Jeffsaid.Mydadgot Canada, Oregon, northern California ing anytime soon. After all, he really are Italian made, Jeff said.drafted. Because cleaners were consid- and Washington. They are declining at enjoys what he does, especially fixingered an essential business, he was an a rate of almost 3 percent per year. things that people think are hopeless. ith a small crew (he does theonly son to a widow. They gave him a The local timber industry, however, Work tapered off a few years ago, as W spottingandrunsthedeferment to help get things in order declined at a much faster rate in the it has in much of the industry, but lately drycleaning machine, his wifeso he could leave. early 1990s. the volume has seemed to stabilize. Jeff Liz and employee Joyce Bryant work asWhen Jeffs father later left to go to That really killed the logging in- believes the future will still be strong pressers), each time one is sold meanswar, his grandmother kept the business dustry, and so a lot of support indus- for drycleaners because they do a job a lot of extra work for the week, notgoing and even paid off the building tries, Jeff noted. A lot of loggers dont that people will always need. that Jeff would complain. Its a chal-that housed the cleaners. wear drycleaned clothes, but we had a There are a lot of things that we do lenging job, too.At that time, the building was split numberofcorporateofficesforbig that a number of people are not going Usually theyre on a time crunchin two. There was a restaurant on one companies that were here and those towanttodothemselves,heex- and they want it fast, he laughed.side, Jeff said. The cleaners was on people did use our service quite a bit. plained. I know a lot of these compa- Everything on the yachts is of superthe other side of it. It was the extra services that kept nies are trying to invent ways to elimi- high quality, from the towels to wind-As he was growing up in the 1960s, the business going when times were at nate cleaners, like how do you make a breakers and super plush (but weather-the business became stronger than ever their toughest. If I hadnt diversified, suit that doesnt have to be cleaned or resistant)bathrobesthatareembroi-(now twice in size, literally, since the I wouldnt be here now, he said. pressed, but even at that, theres a lot dered with the name of the boat onrestaurant moved out and the dividing One lesson Jeff has learned over the ofwashandwearshirtsthatcome them. Some yachts go on the marketwall was taken out). years is that you cannot prepare for throughherebecausepeopledont for well over $20 million. Like his father before him, Jeff pur- everything (spotted owls, for example), want to mess with them. Its quite a change of pace from oversued other interests (he was a music but there is something else you can do It doesnt hurt that Jeff has found a 100yearsagowhenhisgrandfathermajor in college) before coming to the to help make sure your business stays way to connect with Millennials in the started the business, but as always withbusiness full time in 1980. He worked successful. area by going back to one of his first the Protheroes, its about treating peo-alongside his father for the next two I think the biggest thing is youve loves: music. ple the way they want to be treated.'