EVERETT — Give that special someone a holiday present that sucks.
Everett Vacuum can fix you up.
What’s up with that?
The store has dozens of gleaming machines with voracious appetites for crumbs, dirt and dust.
Just as the sign says: “Everything we sell sucks.”
The store opened in 1944 in a small house at 2318 Broadway. The punny saying became its motto about four years ago, when the overhead sign led to global social media fame after going viral on TikTok, Funny Roos Comedy’s Facebook page and Barstool Sports. It was featured in this Herald column in April.
Locals got a laugh. That’s what mattered most. So the sign stayed up.
But it’s no longer a roadside attraction on Broadway. In November, the business moved to a retail building less than a mile away at 2415 Hewitt Ave.
Overhanging signs aren’t allowed at the new site, so a new flat banner with the “sucky” motto was made for the front window. You have to crane your neck to see it.
The showroom is three times larger than at the original store. Inside, you’ll find David Lane, 37, and his father, Mike, 61, the owners since 2011. Their dream had been to someday open a hobby shop with electric cars and trains.
Vacuums are their hobby instead.
Bag. Bagless. Cordless. Canister. Upright. Stick. Robot.
Oreck. Bissell. Miele. Hoover.
“We have parts for everything,” Lane said.
In these days of Amazon and big box stores, a vacuum shop might seem like a risky venture. But chain retailers don’t repair the machines they sell. Most homes have at least one cleaner, and many have two or three different grime-busters for carpet, wood and cars.
Someone’s got to fix them. Who are you gonna call?
Back in the day, there were door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesmen like Ted Hagen, who became so successful that he needed a storefront to sell the trade-ins. He moved his supply and family into the Broadway home and started Everett Vacuum in 1944.
Lane’s father-in-law Laurie Steinberg, a longtime worker at the shop, bought the store when Hagen’s son retired in the late 1990s. After Steinberg’s death, Lane bought the store with his dad, who was in the auto industry for 30 years.
Lane worked at a prosthetics company after serving in the Army. Those skills came in handy making the 6-foot bright red vacuum prop from wood and fiberglass that was a fixture on the sidewalk at the Broadway store and now stands on Hewitt.
Lane wasn’t seeking attention beyond Broadway when he put up the sucks saying on the sign he changed every few months.
“I was looking for some tongue-in-cheek advertising,” he said. “When you own a vacuum store, everyone wants to tell you a vacuum joke, and most involve a punchline with something sucking. I put it up there more to just beat people to the punch.”
Before that, the sign was mostly about sales or German vacuums. German-made Miele and SEBO are the Porsche and BMW of vacuums.
“The German vacuums will last someone 20 to 25 years,” Lane said. “They come with a 10-year warranty. Most others have a one- or three-year warranty.”
The first cleaning machine powered manually using bellows to create a vacuum was patented in the 1860s by Daniel Hess of West Union, Iowa. Vacuums have come a long way since Britain’s 1901 “Puffing Billy,” a massive red-and-gold gas-powered machine that was towed by a horse-drawn cart. It provided paid “vacuum cleaning” services using tubes snaked into the windows of commercial buildings and homes. The royals owned one.
The cleaning industry continues to develop new products. Roomba, the round robot that cats love, was launched in 2002.
Everett Vacuums also sells things that squirt, such as Nellie’s WOW mop, a wet cordless wonder.
“It does 1,000 scrubs a minute and a button that sprays the solution,” Lane said. “Throw the pads in the washing machine.”
The WOW mop bundle costs $225, including solution and extra pads.
That’s a holiday gift that doesn’t suck.
Commercial services throughout the Seattle metropolitan area rely on the Everett store for janitorial supplies and machines. Rene Cortez makes the hour-plus trip from Auburn to get vacuums repaired for his cleaning business.
“They know what they’re doing. That’s why I prefer to drive all the way here,” Cortez said.
Best way to destroy your vacuum?
“Sucking up too big of stuff,” Lane said.
Judith Campbell, of Everett, can attest to that. She brought in her ailing upright Shark vacuum for a needed repair.
“It kept shutting off,” Campbell said.
Turns out a plush dog toy was stuck deep in its belly.
Moby, Campbell’s rescue dachshund mix, likes to chew the stuffing out of his toys. This one fell victim to the Shark. The repair took about an hour, with the retrieved toy good to go.
Campbell said he has other toys and won’t be getting that one back.
Sucks for Moby.
Sound & Summit
This article is featured in the winter issue of Sound & Summit, a supplement of The Daily Herald. Explore Snohomish and Island counties with each quarterly magazine. Each issue is $3.99. Subscribe to receive all four editions for $14 per year. Call 425-339-3200 or go to soundsummitmagazine.com for more information.