Business

Longtime Bellingham store owners are easing into retirement

Paul Pace, left, and Roberta Pace, right, hold their grandson Sam Pace in front of their antique business, Pace’s Salvage, on Wednesday, Oct. 5, in Bellingham.
Paul Pace, left, and Roberta Pace, right, hold their grandson Sam Pace in front of their antique business, Pace’s Salvage, on Wednesday, Oct. 5, in Bellingham. eabell@bhamherald.com

Paul and Roberta Pace are easing their way into retirement and appear to be having fun along the way.

The owners of Pace’s Salvage, 4092 Pacific Highway, have spent decades attending auctions to bring back the unusual – and not so unusual – items to their warehouses. They have started a closing sale for the merchandise in the “lower warehouse,” which is home to the smaller items, such as clothing. The lower warehouse will be closed to the public in December, while the upper warehouse (next to the Huey helicopter) will remain open until spring of 2018.

The company is building a website to continue selling online after the warehouses close. They also will host an auction on Saturday, Nov. 5.

For those who have not ventured into Pace’s, it’s one of those places where you aren’t quite sure what you’ll find, but it is usually very interesting. It has standard items like tools and clothing, but there’s also a huge bird cage in the shape of a Russian castle, a plane hanging from the ceiling, a stuffed bear and quite a variety of furniture. Old business signs are plastered across the walls, including one advertising a Flying A gas station that used to be on Meridian Street and is a favorite of Paul Pace.

Paul and Roberta got their start in 1974 when they bought Pace’s New & Used on Bellingham’s Holly Street from Paul’s parents. By the mid-1980s, they were bidding on products in auctions, primarily on excess inventory from insurance claims. That meant traveling all over the country, trying to determine the value of items and competing against other bidders. One of those experiences was in 1992, when Paul traveled to Southern California to look at inventory in the aftermath of the Rodney King/Los Angeles riots. He wasn’t the winning bidder, but still remembers the experience of trying to come up with an estimate while under armed guard inside a huge warehouse that had merchandise covering the floor.

Traveling to all these places made it an enjoyable experience, Pace said.

“The beauty of this business is you never know what you’re going to get,” he said.

Having been in business for decades and married for 54 years, both Paul and Roberta say the thing they will miss the most is the customers.

“Many of them are my friends who come in to say hi,” Roberta said.

For further details, call 360-738-0510.

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