Columbia River Realty enters new era

Washougal business reinvents itself with new office space, rebranding campaign; will host office-warming event from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14

When Charline Wright started Columbia River Realty in 2013, she and six other brokers worked out of the backs of their cars because they didn’t have an office of their own.

The Washougal brokerage has come a long way since then. And now that it has moved into a building of its own and launched a major rebranding campaign, the company is embracing a new era.

In September, Columbia River Realty moved to its new office space at 1203 “E” St., in Washougal, the former home of Flowers Washougal, and unveiled a rebranding campaign to reflect its values as well as the reality of home-owning during a global pandemic.

“Every business has to reinvent themselves, right?” Wright said. “It feels like we’re growing up. We were a start-up, then we grew and went to a bigger space, joined ERA Real Estate, and (with the most recent changes), it seems like we’re young adults now.”

The company, which had worked out of the Washougal Town Square since 2014, can still call itself “Washougal’s only brick-and-mortar real estate brokerage,” a favored phrase in its promotional materials. Wright completed her purchase of the former Flowers Washougal building from owner Sandy McQueen on Aug. 31.

“It was kind of spur-of-the-moment, (but) it had been on my ‘goal list’ to own a building for the company since 2015,” Wright said. “Our lease was up in August, and we had been talking about moving for a while, so it just kind of worked out. We had heard that (McQueen) was going to close down, so we came to visit and said, ‘Maybe we can lease it.’ But in talking to her, I realized she wanted to sell it. She said, ‘Let me see what I can do,’ and we wrote up an offer in June. It all just kind of worked out.”

“We were looking for a building and thought it wasn’t going to happen, and we kind of resigned ourselves to signing another lease,” Columbia River Realty broker Angie Tauialo added. “But this just fell into our laps, and everything just (came together) perfectly. This is where we’re supposed to be. It’s exciting. ‘m happy to be where we are. It seems like we’re growing up.”

Wright believes the new facility will provide more visibility and accessibility to the public and offer more space for client and agent services and amenities, key considerations for a company that now employs 28 brokers.

“We’re really excited to have a (street-facing) presence,” Wright said. “We did well where we were on the second floor (of the Washougal Town Square), but people would say, ‘So where are you?’ Now we’re right here and people know where we are because ‘E’ Street is very busy. And this (building) will allow us to give more services to our agents. When we first started the company, we were transient. We know what it’s like to not have that office space. Our agents have a place to meet with clients, which is nice.”

Wright also decided that the company could benefit from a refreshed look to go along with its new digs. The brokerage developed its rebranding campaign around the “disconnect between helping consumers buy a home that can offer a life-changing experience but not going the extra mile to empower homeowners to live their best lives once the real estate transaction closes,” according to a news release.

“Our core values are really not a lot different than they were before,” Wright said. “They’re a little more defined than we were before. It’s really important to us that we give back to our communities, and that (part) is still there. The essences are there, but they’re a little more specific.”

To guide the rebrand, the brokerage turned to Jessica Dudley, a Camas-based brand strategist and writer who partners with small business owners to provide marketing services.

“After opening eight years ago from the trunks of their cars, the brokerage had outgrown their story and language, and there was an opportunity to elevate their brand perception and define their mission, vision and values,” Dudley said in the news release. “I turbocharged their messaging with a strong voice, clarity, and a heartfelt brand strategy that’s unique yet relatable. Transitioning to a content-heavy real estate lifestyle brand helps Columbia River Realty connect with 85 percent of their audience that isn’t actively buying or selling, and differentiates their brokerage from other brokerages.”

The campaign launched with a new visual identity, including an updated logo, brand colors and property signage, from Camas-based designer Erica Stupfel, and a new tagline — “Buy, Sell, Live Well,” a message that strongly resonates with Wright and her long-term vision for the company.

“We help (people) buy real estate and sell real estate, but after the sale, it’s not over,” Wright said. “We’re helping our clients live well. We have client parties and stay in touch with our clients. We have resources for them at all times, and we do a lot of informational campaigns, so they have information about how to live well. We like to stay in touch. We send out information every month about, say, how to protect your credit or how to protect your identity or curb appeal or how to stage a home or seasonal home improvements.

“We want to stay in touch and make sure that we’re a part of the community and that people can (feel comfortable) to come in, even if they just need a cup of coffee. We like it when our clients stop in just to say ‘hi’ and catch up about what’s been going on.”

Speaking of coffee, the brokerage is partnering with Camas’ Hidden River Roasters to offer “Your Home Blend,” which will be served during client and vendor appreciation events and included in gift baskets.

Columbia River Realty will also present a weekly social media series called “Coffee Talk,” during which brokers “spill the beans” and answer consumers’ real estate questions.

“Coffee is a part of many people’s daily home experience, and it encourages us to make time for connection,” Wright said in the news release. “It’s also a fun way to support a favorite local business.”

The brokerage will host an office-warming event from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14, featuring Hidden River Roasters coffee, cookies from Pretty+Baked and a door prize raffle.