After 36 years of fixing and selling recycled appliances, Welch’s Appliances was selected the best small business for 2015 by the Thurston Economic Development Council. The award was announced in March of this year.
The business was launched by Ross and Alice Welch, and it has spent most of its history on Martin Way in Olympia. Ross has since died, but Alice continues to stay involved with the business, previously known as Welch’s Bargain Center.
“I don’t want to retire,” said Alice, 72. “This is my life.”
She continues to do the books for the business, but if she can’t, her granddaughter Amanda Warren helps. That’s not all Amanda does. She wears several hats, including store manager.
Warren, 30, said she grew up in the store. She recalled spending time at the business with her grandfather as a child. While he worked, she would play and try to hide his tools. But when he died, Amanda knew she needed to step up and help.
She joined the family business four years ago. One of her first recommendations was to change the name to Welch’s Appliances, which she thought was a better fit for the services they offered.
Welch’s is best known as a destination for those looking to recycle a range, washer, dryer, fridge or freezer.
The business takes those appliances, reconditions the machines and sells them at a discount. If the machine can’t be fixed, they salvage all usable parts and work with another business that recycles metal. All those machines, either dropped off at the business or that they have picked up, are out back in the “boneyard,” where Welch’s employees get the machines ready.
Ross Welch was a former field factory supervisor for Montgomery Ward who wanted to do something similar with his own business.
“That was his livelihood,” said Alice.
Welch’s also makes house calls to do appliance repairs, including a six-month warranty on parts and labor, and will make deliveries for $40 in the Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater area, while it’s $55 for the wider area, such as to Shelton, Rainier, Yelm and Centralia.
If someone wants to recycle an appliance in the Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater area, they will pick it up for free, although they ask that the customer donate some food to the Thurston County Food Bank. Welch’s will pick up the donation as well, she said.
The business also is accepting frozen-turkey donations for the holidays, Amanda said.
Where do they keep them? Where else? In a showroom freezer, she said.
Owner: Alice Welch, but the business is managed by Amanda Warren, her granddaughter. Amanda’s grandfather and Alice’s husband, Ross, started the business.
Location: 2701 Martin Way E., Olympia
Years in business: The business, once known as Welch’s Bargain Center, opened in 1980.
Type of business: Best known for selling recycled appliances — washers, dryers, ranges, fridges and freezers — at a discount.
Online: Find Welch’s on Facebook or at welchsappliances.com.
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays.
Did you know? Welch’s Appliances was selected best small business for 2015 by the Thurston Economic Development Council.