Irmo store displays vacuums dating back to at least the 1930s

Posted 12/1/23

A local vacuum shop allows customers to take a deep dive into the history of vacuums.

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Irmo store displays vacuums dating back to at least the 1930s


A local vacuum shop allows customers to take a deep dive into the history of vacuums.

Vacuum Ect., located at 735 Saturn Pkwy. in Irmo, is owned by Christopher Nash who has held a strong passion for vacuums since he was a young child. The location features a display of vacuums that spans nearly a century.

Nash shared that while he keeps his oldest piece from 1916 at home he has multiple vintage vacuums on the floor, with the oldest displayed dating back at least as far as the 1930s.

“If they're coming in to buy a pack of vacuum bags, if they are coming in to buy one of our amazing chemicals from our chemical brand, when you turn around and you're leaving, if you see those up there, you're gonna say ‘Oh, my mom had one like that,’” he said. “It's a trip through memory lane for the customers.”

Nash shared that he began collecting vacuums around age 6, though he had a break when he was not in the vacuum business, ultimately getting back into it about 15 years ago. The vacuums displayed in the store are from his personal collection, and he added that a lot of the vacuums still work.

According to Nash, the vacuums come from a variety of places, ranging from customers, antique stores or other collectors. He recounted that when his central vacuum business was making a run to a house that had burned down, the owner donated one of the vacuums in the collection because he was the only person to make her laugh during that trying time.

Nash told the Chronicle that it’s getting harder to find vintage vacuums, adding that if he is going to stop at an antique store, it must be “junky” for there to be much hope of finding what he’s after. He also said that you can find a cool vacuum and assume that it is vintage but find out it’s actually only a decade or so old.

Alongside collecting the vacuums, Nash and his business also restore them. Actual restoration of the vacuums begins with fully taking them apart,  polishing and cleaning each screw, stripping and repainting the body if necessary, fixing the bumpers and removing and restoring the name plate if possible.

When it comes to the general importance of vacuums Nash said that they are there to help people clean and that each one serves a special purpose. He shared that when customers come in, they are able to match the customer with exactly what they need.

Nash shared that when he sees an older vacuum, he often asks himself who it was owned by, how long they had it, how did they die, what little kids used it and what 80 year-old is alive today that learned how to vacuum with it?

“It’s just a cool thought,” he said.

Nash said that when it comes to the nameplates, people often don’t save them and that there isn’t going to be a “treasure trove” of nameplates in someone's attic. Many of the vintage vacuums have a bag to collect dust and debris, and these have to be cleaned very carefully due to them being very fragile.

The owner mused that vacuums can mean different things to different people.

“You know, a vacuum is a personal thing. Some people loan them out to friends, other people it's a very personal item,” Nash said before looking at a particular vacuum. “I look at it and every time I walk by it in the store, I think of my grandmother.”


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