EVERETT — Beverly has left the building, but her name lives on.
And now it’s on a new office.
What’s up with that?
For nearly 45 years, Beverly’s Auto Licensing has been the go-to place in south Everett for vehicle tabs and titles. The past quarter-century, the office with three customer windows and five workers has operated out of 400 square feet crammed in the back of a narrow space shared by an insurance agency in front.
Sara Rice, 36, recently took over ownership from her grandmother, founder Beverly Ren. Sara is moving operations to another space in Anderson’s Shopping Center that’s four times larger. It’s sleek and roomy, with high ceilings, expanded counter service, an express line and climate control.
The move is expected by the end of the month, as soon as the computers are all systems go.
Typewriters did the trick when Beverly, 88, opened the office in 1975 in the Fred Meyer complex on Evergreen Way. In 1995, she moved a half-mile south to Anderson’s, that brick strip plaza that also houses Moby’s Barber Shop, Giorgio’s Pizza and Quintila’s Tax.
Car transactions can be a pain. The state requires this and that and then some. The line that forms down the hall at Beverly’s often spills into the parking lot.
People don’t seem to mind waiting, for the most part. It helps that the insurance agency in front has bulletin boards plastered with cat memes and cartoons to keep them amused, plus a colossal collection of feline figurines and a 20-pound rubber band ball.
“Even with a tight hallway and no air-conditioning our customers keep coming back,” Sara said. “People ask me about my grandma and how she is doing.”
Sara said one woman comes in every year to renew her tabs and share a story from the ’80s. “She tells me, ‘I was crying and I didn’t have the money and your grandma didn’t know me and she brought out her own checkbook and wrote a check for my tabs without knowing me.’ ”
Sara was 20 when she started at the office. Her mom, Tammy Williams-Reinstra, Beverly’s former daughter-in-law, worked there for 30 years and retired as manager in 2009.
In many states you have to go to a state office for car tasks. In Washington, subagents can contract with the county auditor and the Department of Licensing to perform vehicle and vessel title services.
In Snohomish County, the 17 subagents include Julie’s Auto Licensing on Broadway in north Everett and Barb’s in Snohomish.
“In 2018, we renewed 60,143 tabs and we did 15,430 title transfers,” Sara said. These include online and in person.
O’Neill’s Wheels has relied on Beverly’s for title transfers for years.
“At first it was convenience, because we used to be right next to them. Then we moved down the road,” said Gale Heckard, office manager of the used car lot at 9407 Evergreen Way. “They are easy to work with. They go over and beyond. Just nice people. I’ve never had a complaint about them. They’re hard workers. Those girls are always there.”
Beverly didn’t set out to be a license legacy. In the 1960s she worked in the county auditor’s office and at a Lynnwood auto license office before starting her own agency.
“I knew all the dealers up and down Evergreen Way,” Beverly said. “And the truckers liked us, too.”
Her husband, Ted, made the large wooden work station with three service windows.
“He did all the cabinets and did a lot of extra things,” Beverly said. “After work he’d come and help me.”
He didn’t man the windows. That was for women only.
None ever applied, she said.
“I had a lot of nice girls work for me,” Beverly said. “I used to tell my girls when they’d come to work for me ‘If you don’t like people and you don’t like the job please tell me because you need to find something else.’ ”
Three generations of family members worked together.
“If they did something wrong they got reprimanded as if they were just another person,” Beverly said.
Sara cut her teeth on license plates.
“My mom did it my whole life. I remember being little and going out to the line of customers and handing them pens,” Sara said.
“I’d be sick and stay home from school. I’d come to the office and sleep on a bed of license plates.”
Sara didn’t plan to make it her career.
“Eventually I started doing it all and running it,” Sara said.
“I decided she was the one,” Beverly said.
Sara initiated the move into the new larger space that was formerly a bakery and later a gaming shop. She and her husband, Chris, have two daughters, Lyra, 2, and Clara, 6. The gals sometimes hand out pens.
“My husband is just like my grandpa,” Sara said. “He has built the new office and done everything. He goes to his job during the day and then comes to the office and works until midnight.”
That wooden counter fixture built by Grandpa Ted won’t be making the trip across the parking lot, but the rolling plate boxes and the tab holders he made will be used.
“It is sad, but exciting at the same time,” Sara said.
She wanted to stay in the same shopping center.
“It’s where we belong,” she said. The new site is next to Everett Office Furniture.
The insurance agency with all the cat stuff is staying put. Sara said she might have a token cat display in its honor.
Not only that, there will be two new faces at the counter in the expanded office that will break the gender barrier.
She hired a man.
“We’ll have our first male,” Sara said.
The name won’t change, though. It will always be Beverly’s.
1. Renew tabs online. The office you choose to process your tabs gets the service fee. The tabs can be mailed. You don’t have to come in.
2. When buying a vehicle from a private party, have the seller come to an office with you to do the transfer. That way the office can tell you if everything looks correct, if anything else is needed and can usually handle it there. If that’s not possible, have a clear way to contact the seller after you pay them.
3. When selling a vehicle private party, remove your license plates. This will avoid toll tickets, towing bills and a major headache later. You or the buyer can purchase a 3-day permit for the buyer to drive the vehicle home.
4. File a report of sale to protect yourself after selling a vehicle. Make sure you get the buyer’s name, address and driver’s license number and this will protect you from anything they do while driving the vehicle in your name.
5. There are fake websites posing as the official Washington Department of Licensing. Make sure you use www.dol.wa.gov.
Source: Sara Rice, owner of Beverly’s Auto Licensing