Judd & Black Appliance Celebrates 80 Years by Giving Back

Eighty years ago this year, local home appliance retailer Judd & Black Appliance opened its doors.

Since those first days, her mission has been to give back to the community. Following the coronavirus pandemic, the family-owned business decided to use its 80th anniversary celebration to honor this original mission.

Bellingham Food Bank and four other local food banks each received $ 3,000 from Judd & Black Appliance. Donations like this help them buy enough groceries to support the community members who visit the banks each week. Photo credit: Carlos Rexach

From April 16 through May 10, Judd & Black donated $ 10 from every device order to five food banks in the area. The fundraising campaign raised $ 15,000 evenly distributed across five locations: Bellingham Food Bank, Everett Food Bank by Volunteers of America, Lynnwood Food Bank, Marysville Community Food Bank, and Skagit Valley Neighbors in Need.

“It goes in that direction of our history and the spirit of our company,” says Rachael Sylte, Marketing Director at Judd & Black Appliance. “It is very important for us to be good neighbors and to practice what we preach.”

Judd & Black Appliance is seen as an essential business so they have been able to stay open for the past few months and keep all of their employees.

After opening during World War II and numerous economic downturns since then, this is not the first time the company has run into trouble. Sylte attributes part of Judd & Black’s longevity to the continuous support over generations from the community.

A Judd & Black Appliance store circa 1976. Photo courtesy of Judd & Black Appliance

You now have customers who are loyal customers because their grandparents also bought from Judd & Black, says Sylte.

“That is one of the reasons why we made this donation to celebrate our 80th anniversary,” says Sylte. “We wouldn’t be here without the support of the community.”

Bellingham Food Bank, one of Judd & Black’s beneficiaries, says the same thing.

“Our community really drives us,” says Kristin Costanza, communications coordinator at Bellingham Food Bank. “Not every county, not every city affected by the pandemic can count on their hunger relief efforts the way Bellingham and Whatcom Counties can, and that’s really because people in risky environments care and work hard to get people what they need. We are proud and grateful to be part of our community. ”

Since the coronavirus outbreak, visitors to Bellingham Food Bank have increased an average of 10 percent. They anticipate the longer-term increase in visits to be even higher, says Costanza.

A Bellingham Food Bank volunteer waves from one of the three weekly drive-up locations. Instead of letting customers shop for the groceries and supplies they want, they set up those auto locations and a home delivery option to ensure safe social distancing. Photo credit: Carlos Rexach

Donations like the one they received from Judd & Black Appliance are especially helpful right now to help the food bank continue to serve the community. Before the pandemic, the grocery bank got more than half of its groceries from grocery store overflows and picked up additional groceries from local stores on a regular basis. This is no longer an option, so they are replacing these foods with buying them, often from the same suppliers that large grocers and retail chains use.

“It has always been true that we value donations and that we can use them differently from donated food, but especially now to try to be a competitive grocer in our nation’s food flow – that’s a big deal,” said Costanza .

Judd & Black Appliance opened in Everett in 1940 as the Judd & Black Electric Company. Founders Wayne Judd and Don Black spent the first five years in equipment repair. Because of the Second World War, no new devices were made.

In 1946, they hired an apprentice named Bob Long, who bought the company from Black in 1976. Long’s family has since owned and operated Judd & Black Appliance, now in the fourth generation of the Long family leadership.

Judd & Black Appliance opened in Everett in 1940. This year they donated $ 15,000 to five regional food banks to mark their 80th anniversary. Photo courtesy Judd & Black Appliance

Over the years, the company moved from appliance repair to electrical home work and eventually selling home appliances. In the 1960s, Judd & Black was one of the largest independent equipment sales and service companies in Washington State.

From the generations of Longs who ran the business to the broader West Washington communities in which they operate, the community is the lifeblood of Judd & Black Appliance.

As the world and country try to get out of this pandemic, it helps to zoom in on the smaller image to see how people at the community level are able to help each other by helping local businesses like Judd & Black Appliance to turn it into donations that return through their community.

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