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Wednesday, December 12, 2018  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Voices

Same sign, same family, new business


Keith Mack sits on one of the mowers for sale at Spokane Valley Power Tool. Mack reopened the business after it closed in 2003  upon the death of his father-in-law. 
 (CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON / The Spokesman-Review)
Keith Mack sits on one of the mowers for sale at Spokane Valley Power Tool. Mack reopened the business after it closed in 2003 upon the death of his father-in-law. (CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON / The Spokesman-Review)

Its neon sign is recognizable for many longtime Spokane Valley residents, and so is its legendary inventory.

So, the new Spokane Valley Power Tool might not seem that new. In fact, it’s in the same building, has the same sign, and is owned within the same family as the old Power Tool Rental Sales and Service business, which closed in 2003.

“We had different offers of turning it into this, turning it into that, but it just didn’t make sense,” said owner Keith Mack. “My wife said, ‘I’d hate to see it become a carwash.’ “

Mack, son-in-law of former Power Tool owner Warren Guy, bought the property and is liquidating the old lawnmower and power tool inventory, as well as selling new products.

Five employees at the store, 7311 E. Sprague Ave., sell the equipment and also work on repairs. In an environment where giant retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot dominate home improvement sales, Mack is banking on a family approach, a personal touch and an in-house repair shop.

“It’s a tool business; we’re trying to provide a service for some people in the Valley,” he said. “It’s not real glamorous, but there is some nostalgia involved.”

The original Power Tool opened in 1950 and Warren Guy and his wife, Beth, ran it for years, Mack said. Guy died eight years ago, and that made it hard to run the business, he said.

The building has beeh unused since the store closed in 2003, but as Mack worked to clean the facility and organize products, he soon discovered a trove of old tools and parts – perfect for collectors, he said.

For now, Mack will continue to work on clearing out the old inventory, then start selling more and more mowers and equipment. He said he’ll be reconditioning the famous sign on Sprague Avenue, and he’ll continue to operate the business with a family atmosphere.

Mack and his wife Carol own the store, and one of the employees worked there before Power Tool closed. Mack’s mother and father also help with bookkeeping at the store, he said. A father-son team works at the counter and the repair shop.

“It’s kind of a family-type environment we’re keeping,” he said.

The biggest challenge in opening the store is operating as an independent business in the shadow of big box stores, Mack said.

“I’m not nervous and I’m not scared of that,” he said. “Where I’m going to survive is local repairs, so we’re going after that. If we sell it, we’ll repair it.”

 

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