Jim Tinney and his daughter Michelle came to Sultan to open a bookstore. Jim bought a 124-year-old building on Main Street that was a bar and brothel during its Old West heyday.
Upon closer inspection, however, the bookseller discovered a page of the town's history.
"One of the coolest things about going through this building has been tearing the layers off of it," said Jim.
When Tinney started tearing the layers off the outside of the building to replace the aging siding, he and Michelle uncovered something completely unexpected.
"It was a conundrum at first because we didn't know what to do with it," said Michelle.
As the two dug deeper, they realized their bookstore has its own stories to tell.
Beneath the siding sits a huge, well-preserved ad for Black Bear Clothes, likely dating back to the 1920's. It advertises Mackinaws, Kodiak shirts, and stags – all apparel from a bygone era of miners and loggers.
"It's history. It's real," said Jim. "It applies directly to the history of this town. That's what's so great."
The Tinneys want to preserve the massive mural, but it's literally disappearing before their eyes. Paint is chipping and with every drop of rain that falls, the black bear continues to fade away.
The Tinneys estimate it'll cost $8,000 to $10,000 to save the old sign, an unexpected addition to their already tight budget.
"We want to keep the bear," said Michelle. "Everybody wants to keep the bear. We just need to figure out how to do it."
The Tinneys are working with the Sky Valley Arts Council to raise money and figure out how to best preserve the sign. Find out how you can help save the Sultan bear sign on the group’s Facebook page. You can also visit www.Skyvalleyartscouncil.com