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Tom's Vacuum Center a staple in Victoria

By Tess Freeman
March 31, 2014 at 8:04 p.m.
Updated March 30, 2014 at 10:31 p.m.

Jan Bleeker, of Victoria, smiles while helping a customer pick out a new part for his vacuum cleaner at Tom's Vacuum Center. Tom's Vacuum Center has been open since July 1974.

What started as an errand for Tom Bleeker's grandmother transformed into a business that will celebrate its 40th anniversary this July.

Jan Bleeker, Tom's wife, recalls the day when her husband set out to replace a part in his grandmother's vacuum. His frustration over needing to order the part and a desire to start his own business brought to life Tom's Vacuum Center.

The store sits at the corner of Rio Grande and Navarro streets. The bell indicating customers rings frequently, although they seldom have more than one customer at a time.

Jan Bleeker has one full-time employee, Ilene Pena, who has worked for Tom's for nine years.

She started working half days in high school as part of a co-op program. Now, she works full time in addition to attending Victoria College and working on a degree in computer science.

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