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Wild Birds Unlimited on Whidbey Island:Now in Freeland under new ownership

Wild Birlds Unlimited staff: Barbara Gohlke, Shirley and Michael Yost
Wild Birlds Unlimited staff: Barbara Gohlke, Shirley and Michael Yost
Carolyn Tamler

Shirley Hendricson admits that she loves the challenge of taking on a new job every few years. In the 18 years since she moved to Whidbey Island, she has used her marketing and communications background in several retail management jobs, including positions with Ace Hardware Store, Greenbank Farm, Bayview Farm and Garden and the Heritage Institute.

She always worked for someone else until a little over a year ago. A friend saw a “For Sale” sign on the counter of the Wild Birds Unlimited Store in Clinton, and when told about this opportunity, Shirley thought, “If I was ever going to buy a store, this was the kind of business I’d really enjoy.”

Shirley told herself, “I can do this,” and she decided to take this next step down the road of her life and purchased the franchise in July 2013. She was surprised by all she had to learn to be part of this business. She was thoroughly vetted before the sale was allowed to go through, and she was required to visit the Indiana Headquarters of Wild Birds Unlimited to complete her interview process.

She decided to move the business to Freeland because of its growing retail community. The store opened in August 2013 at 5565 Van Barr Place. She found two sales associates who share her enthusiasm for wild birds and helping customers: Barbara Gohlke and Michael Yost.

Shirley really believes in the quality of the merchandise and the ethics provided by Wild Birds Unlimited. The franchise, which now includes over 275 stores in the United States and Canada, has high quality fresh birdseed, delivered fresh every week, and a range of interesting products to attract feathered visitors. She says, “I feel good about selling these products.”

Shirley comments that one of the aspects of her job that is especially interesting is that she gets to do a lot of problem solving. Recently, with the unusually cold weather on the island, she was asked, “How do I keep my Hummingbird feeder from freezing?”

If you’d like to know the answer to the previous question, to which Shirley had several suggestions, and if you’d like to come by and be inspired to see wild birds up close and personal, stop by Wild Birds Unlimited, 5565 Van Barr Pl., Suite AB, in Freeland, from 10 am to 5 pm, Monday through Saturday, and 11 am to 3 pm on Sunday; phone: 360-341-1404. You can check out Shirley’s website at

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