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Family laundromat stays in the Valley
NORTH BEND - For 79 years the McKibben family has pressed and starched the Snoqualmie Valley's clothing. Beginning with a washtub and a scrub board, this family business, which has been pivotal to the growth of the Snoqualmie Valley, is changing due to David McKibben's retirement.
Consolidated Laundry was founded out of Issaquah by V.M. McKibben along with his partner, Harry King. These partners eventually expanded to purchase the North Bend Laundry. At the same time, they acquired a new building in Snoqualmie and in 1926 began their incredible legacy of service and quality in the Valley.
Two weeks after Snoqualmie's Consolidated Laundry began operation, the business experienced a sudden tragedy. In the early hours one morning, a fire engulfed the entire building before the fire department arrived. This was truly a tragedy due to the fact that the partners had not yet invested in insurance for the building (located where Adventure Bowling Center now stands) and in the process, lost all.
John McKibben, V.M.'s son, had been attending classes at the University of Washington in pursuit of an undergraduate degree. When funding became an issue, John decided to attend dry cleaning trade school without his father's knowledge.
"John had decided to go to trade school and work, and then approached his father unexpectedly with extreme interest in forming a partnership with his father," explained Mary Lou McKibben, John's widow.
Harry King was supportive and sold his portion of the partnership to John. During the same year, V.M. had decided to retire from the business, giving his son total responsibility.
One of the most trying times for this family business was felt during the war when John had to leave for the service just after he'd started running the business.
"In November of 1942, I had to help work the laundry truck and had to drive the truck because we continued to make deliveries throughout the Valley," Mary Lou said.
A humorous anecdote for the family was that during the war, and due to the scarcity of delivery drivers, the business had to improvise.
"John taught his mother-in-law how the gears worked in the truck and watched as she struggled through it. She ended up doing the deliveries for a good portion of the Snoqualmie Valley," said Mary Lou.
John operated the business for 30 years. Prior to handing the business over to his son, David McKibben, John changed the name to Mount Si Cleaners. After David began running the business and following in his father's footsteps, John went on to help establish the Wax Museum of Seattle and continued to be in the cleaning industry by managing other businesses.
For David, it was natural to continue the legacy. David began to work in the store as a freshmen in high school. After going into the Navy, David decided to go to dry cleaning trade school and ended up working for a couple of years with other businesses to help the family business flourish.
David was raised in the Snoqualmie Valley and brought his children up here. Along with ownership of the North Bend Coin Laundry and the Snoqualmie Valley Coin Laundry, he has been involved in the community. David has been a volunteer firefighter, worked on the fire commission, has been a member of Kiwanis Club and is a partner of the Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Co.
David decided to retire from the laundry business to pursue other endeavors. Although there is a fourth generation, both his daughters ended up in the medical profession.
"Sadly, the wash stops here," David stated.
David recently sold partnerships for both the Snoqualmie Coin Laundry and North Bend Coin Laundry to longtime North Bend resident Byron Moore. Moore has been closely involved in these businesses prior to ownership and David is confident the business will continue to have their hospitable and welcoming charm. "It was extremely natural to sell to Moore, and I completely trust him with the business and continuing its principles," David stated.
The McKibben family has left an unprecedented legacy for local businesses within the Snoqualmie Valley. The three-generation business has stood as a cornerstone, has continued to adapt to the continual growth of the Snoqualmie Valley and will remain an example for smaller local businesses.