Yard Birds History

From Local people hang on to Yard Birds' glory days:

A brief history of the Chehalis Yard Birds store (stores also existed in Olympia and Shelton):

1947: Bill Jones and Richard Gillingham open the War Surplus Store in a tent on West Main Street in Centralia. Later that year, the two owners move the business to the complex where Sunbird Shopping Center is now located and named it Yard Birds Surplus.

1958: Yard Birds now occupies 110,000 square feet, and houses 16 departments and five lessees. The business is renamed the Yard Birds Family Shopping Center.

1971: Yard Birds moves to its final location between Centralia and Chehalis to construct what was the largest store in the area. The Yard Birds Family Shopping Center is 305,000 square feet. The new store introduced a 70-foot tall "Yard Bird" that could be seen from Interstate 5.

1976: The landmark "Yard Bird' is destroyed by fire. The fiberglass bird is ignited when an automobile backfires and catches fire underneath it. Pay -n- Save bought the store from Jones and Gillingham.

1990: The Chehalis store is flooded in January owing to heavy rains and a dike breaking. The store has water from 18 to 24 inches deep for 12 hours. The store was closed for eight days. The flood caused an estimated $1.1 million in damage.

1995: Yard Birds chairman of the board George Lee confirms that the Chehalis store will be closed.

Any one have any memories of the Olympia Yard Birds?


I was young but I remember th

I was young but I remember they had a crappy floor. I had a lust for the wax lips, but the memory that is most vivid and real is walking to the restroom, passing by the bar door and standing at the cigarette machine thinking "I could buy these if I had money" I was five or six. I still have old fishing bait/tackle with yardbirds price stickers on it, maybe I should capitolize and sell my loot on ebay.

The fire which occurred short

The fire which occurred shortly before the building was scheduled to undergo asbestos removal.

...ignited when an automobile

...ignited when an automobile backfired and caught fire underneath it...!

Potential historical accuracy aside - that is an awesome image.

See Evergroove trivia, pt. 88

See Evergroove trivia, pt. 88.

Oh I remember Yard Birds. 

Oh I remember Yard Birds.  It was an institution when I was growing up in the 70s.  The store seemed huge to me when I was little, you'd walk in and they would have cotton candy and popcorn, "grab bags", and the pet department in the corner.  Fishing poles, toys, garden supplies, home decor, and the music department next to the optometrist.  My brother worked there in the 80s and he died in 1988.  I remember the huge yard bird in front of the store, holding the little umbrella, I begged my mom to drive through but she never did.  Every year we would see santa descend in a helicopter, and one year Darth Vader came for a visit, must have been 1977.  Mom bought all our school clothes there.  I haven't been back to Chehalis in years, but judging by the pictures I've seen elsewhere, it hasn't changed at all.