Waugh’s Men’s and Women’s Apparel, a cornerstone downtown Aberdeen business for a century now, should be around for another generation or two.
The store was recently sold to Harbor native Daniel Crocker, 24, who graduated from Aberdeen High only five years ago.
Crocker, who has been working at the store for just more than three years, wasn’t planning a career as a clothier, but said he started considering that career move early on.
“It was just a part-time job while I was in college,” Crocker said of his first days on the job. “It was about two months in, when I started to think about it.”
Crocker said the family atmosphere in the store, created by then-owner Ray Ericks, made him feel comfortable and confident about the decision.
“It didn’t feel like work,” Crocker said with a chuckle. “Oh, some days you feel it — like this time of year — but most of the days — for me — it doesn’t feel like work at all.”
“You just know when the right person comes along,” said Ericks, who had owned Waugh’s for 30 years and has worked there much longer.
“I started working here in 1966, while I was in high school,” Ericks said Sunday while working in the store, which he will still do one day a week — again as an employee, ironically — for the time being.
“I saw so much potential in Daniel. We hit it off right away. He said I reminded him of his grandfather,” said Ericks. “He proved to be a really hard worker and he was eager to learn. I found out we’re both diabetics and we’re both Polish — a winning combination. This community has always been so good to me, and I hope the town will continue to support Daniel.”
According to Ericks, the store was established in 1920 by Lester Waugh. In the late ‘50s, his son Wally Waugh took over the store from his father.
Ericks said he, too, sort of began his career as a clothier accidentally. When he started, it was just a high-school job at that point in his young life. It became his stepping stone and then his family-owned enterprise.
“I worked for him (Wally) and left to accept a position as a buyer for Lamont’s Department Store in Seattle,” recalled Ericks. “I worked as a sales rep for a few years and started a jeans line called Blue Mt. Jean Co. I sold my company and returned to Waugh’s. I ended up buying the store in 1990.”
Crocker — the son of Matt and Vickie Crocker — has hit the ground running, taking ownership during the busy holiday season while all along observing all the safety protocols mandated due to the pandemic.
But he’s ready to roll, he said.
”In January we’re going to create a brand-new website, where you can order online,” he said of future plans. “We’re going to bring in a few new lines — including bringing back Van shoes —and a new loyalty card system.”
As for the mostly retired Ericks?
“I plan to spend some time at my cabin and maybe travel a little after COVID,” he said. “The cabin is on the Sound outside of Shelton — on the water at Oakland Bay. It’s a beautiful spot. I feel very lucky.”
Waugh’s is located at 110 E. Heron St, in Aberdeen. The phone number is 360-533-3880 and the website is waughs1920.com.