Everson resident chronicles 150-plus years of family history in Whatcom County
The best stories are simple stories. That’s what Mark Shintaffer wrote back in 2010 in the book he co-authored with Jack Petree: Reef Nets in the Salish Sea.
Shintaffer loves history, but he really loves his family’s history. Because family is everything to the 50-year-old Everson resident.
Currently, Shintaffer is putting the finishing touches on his third family book. The series, titled The Shintaffer Road, is about 150 years of family, business and Whatcom County history.
Volume III focuses on his parents, Dean and Joyce Shintaffer, and the family’s ownership and operation of Sound Beverage Distributors since 1950. Why has he written his family’s history not once but thrice?
“I enjoy history and it’s not passed on these days,” Shintaffer said recently. “I remember hearing stories by my great-grandmother. It was really cool.”
Dean and Joyce are the oldest surviving members of the Shintaffer family. Mark and his family lived in Ferndale when he was a young man. When he staked out on his own, Mark moved out to Bellingham.
Today, he and his family live in Everson.
The family business
In 1950, Dale and Elaine Shintaffer founded the family business, Sound Beverage.
A beverage distribution business, Sound Beverage has been family owned and operated for more than 70 years.
A customer-first business, Sound Beverage was started with zero money and no credit, Mark Shintaffer said of the business his grandparents started.
Dale Shintaffer “shook the banker’s hand, promised to bring whatever money the business had made that day and deposit it,” Mark Shintaffer said.
“Grandpa would have promised anything to get some money – promised anything he could honor. (The) banker said he’s loan grandpa money if grandpa would make deposits each day. Harold would monitor progress and evaluate weekly. Grandpa told me many times how he would above all other commitments make that bank deposit each day to honor what he’d committed to.”
Mark Shintaffer proudly told how the banker one day told his grandfather he no longer needed to “to come by every day anymore.”
“Grandpa always cherished the relationship with Harold, and credits Harold with much of the success of the Sound Beverage early years,” Mark Shintaffer said. “The relationship, the honoring of his commitment and the drive to succeed were products of grandpa’s ethics and hard work.”
Recently, the Lynden Tribune asked Mark Shintaffer about his favorite family stories. He explained that he likes stories that are “wrapped in lessons.”
“Usually things that remind me how lucky as a society we are today,” he said. “By lucky I mean even someone with little means had vastly greater resources than anyone 100 years ago, even 50 years ago.”
“Old stories of holidays,” Shintaffer meant the 1940s, “usually Christmas” are stories he always enjoyed.
“A gift of homemade socks would be both looked forward to and fully utilized,” Shintaffer said.” They likely got something similar the past Christmas.”
Nowadays, society is “fairly disposable,” Shintaffer believes.
“This comment could relate to cars, clothes, furniture, careers, relationships (family and business), etc.,” he said. “Years ago if you had something, you kept it and cared for it and cherished it. I think this (is) not a positive change in our society. When my grandfather shook someone’s hand, you could take that to the bank, so-to-speak. When I shake someone’s hand you can take it to the bank, but the other guy may not appreciate it the same as I would these days.”
The family writer
Mark Shintaffer has no plans to write an autobiography. Said he hasn’t done “enough cool stuff first.”
In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of most everyone’s consciousness, he opened District Brewing in Mount Vernon.
“Never open a business the day your government closes you down,” he said recently in jest.
All jokes aside, Shintaffer said the reason for opening District Brewing was to get families together.
“Our goal is to be a third space,” he said. “We want people to discuss things there, bring your spouse for a drink. Business meetings, lunch meetings. We’re reinventing the wheel a little bit. Community involvement was important to my grandfather a bit. It is to me as well.”
Close to completing his fourth book, Mark Shintaffer insists he is not a writer.
“I wanted to preserver history, the stories, both business and personal, they were exciting to me,” he said. “I wanted to save them.”