Local business all about the alchemy of power – with 1,000 batteries to choose from

The title on his business card reads “Battery Wizard,” an apt description of Eddie Thomas, the acting manager of Pacific Power Batteries in Mountlake Terrace.

His domain is a light-filled business at 6702 220th St. S.W., which recently won an Evergreen Award from the city for its hanging flower baskets and groomed landscaping.

But the magic is also inside where a dizzying variety of inventory awaits, gizmos able to power anything from a wristwatch to a Harley – more than a thousand batteries in all, in addition to the thousands of chargers and collateral products.

Indeed, the motto of Pacific Power’s six stores and two franchises across the state is “Batteries for Everything.”

One of the biggest items they sell is a 140-pound marine battery. The smallest is a tiny disc to juice a key fob.

For mere mortals, knowledge of batteries is likely limited to what’s rolling around in the household junk drawer. “Your Cs and Ds, nine-volts, triple-As and double-As,” Thomas says. “But there’s so much more. We have batteries for semi-trucks, boats, busses. Of course, cars. We have a lithium battery that can power your smoke alarm for 10 years and solar-powered batteries.”

His associate, Tonya Sayler, an outside-sales rep, shows off a display case full of specialty items.

“We have batteries for police flashlights,” she said. “They’re a high-grade battery with endurance. Fire departments need heavy-duty batteries that can handle vibration. In an ambulance, you can run six big batteries to handle all the equipment.”

A jump-starter that fits in your hand (and glove compartment).

And here’s a who-knew product: a battery that resembles a large smart phone and serves as a car jump. “It fits in your glove compartment,” said Thomas.

There’s clearly a lot to learn. “This business is a daily classroom,” he notes, offering some advice to the average battery-user.

“The car battery needs to exercise,” he said. “Whenever you start your car, you pull energy, so if you just run down to Safeway and back, the battery doesn’t have a chance to recharge. It depends on the system and demands on the battery but generally speaking, it needs about 20 minutes of driving to replenish itself.”

And once you’re done with all those batteries, the store will recycle many of them. “I pay $6 for a car battery, $1 each for lawn mower and motorcycle batteries. Customers pay a small fee – $1.10 a pound – to recycle alkaline batteries, the kind most people have around the house,” Thomas said.

Soon this building will include something outside of the battery realm. Owner Steve Ahmann plans to use available space to rent rooms for businesses needing secure document storage. “It’ll have security cameras and an active alarm system,” he said.

And no doubt, somewhere, batteries to back it all up.

–Story and photos by Connie McDougall

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