A hub for scrubs
Spend time in downtown Medford, and you’ll see the typical establishments: restaurants, jewelry stores, fitness centers and common areas.
But how many downtown cores throughout the country offer scrubs — the loose, oftentimes plain garments worn by professionals, most commonly in health care.
The number of those types of businesses may be hard to quantify, but when it comes to Medford, look no farther than 20 S. Fir St.
“Come and try us out,” said Maisie Vanderhoof, Scrub Hub’s owner, before listing reasons why people should shop there. “You’re keeping your business local, you’re supporting downtown, you’re supporting the local medical industry, which is all in the valley.”
Vanderhoof noted medical care, in particular, because it is a major sector Scrub Hub supplies. Not only hospitals, but pharmacists, dentists and veterinarians also wear scrubs.
The idea for the business was conceived and founded by the late Vicky Wiencek, a local nurse before she passed away last year, according to Vanderhoof.
“When she would fly home to visit her family, she would always find herself getting her scrubs back east,” Vanderhoof said. “She’s like, ‘Why can’t I get scrubs in Southern Oregon?’”
In August of 2008, Wiencek and her husband, Jeff, a physician, committed to starting a business selling just scrubs. The couple had moved from Maine, her home state, to Oregon a few years before.
“There really was no other place to buy scrubs,” Jeff said. “She knew that people want to look good and feel good when they go to work.”
And even though online shopping was around in 2008, for Vicky, nothing beat trying scrubs on to see how they felt, according to her husband.
“She didn’t like to buy her scrubs online. She liked to buy them in person and wanted other people to have that opportunity, too,” Jeff said.
Scrub Hub started at the Shoppes at Exit 24 in Phoenix before moving to downtown Medford, he said.
“We loved the business; we nurtured it and grew it,” Jeff said.
The Wienceks enjoyed seeing Scrub Hub succeed for 10 years, but came to the realization they could not keep running it.
“My wife worked as a nurse, and I work as a physician. We were both busy, so the reason why we sold it was because it was a lot of work,” Jeff said.
Vanderhoof, with previous jobs at Starbucks and Rogue Credit Union, “always wanted to own a business.” She already knew the Wienceks, so when the opportunity came to acquire Scrub Hub, she accepted.
“We were always looking for something that was a sustainable business,” Vanderhoof said. “Considering they had been open since 2008 and the need for health care uniforms in the valley, my husband’s like, ‘Oh, that’s something she might be interested in.’ Then the conversation just sort of went from there.”
Jeff felt confident Vanderhoof could do the job.
“We knew the business would be in great hands and we knew that she would help grow the business even more,” he said. “We’re definitely not surprised she was successful carrying the business forward.”
Ninety percent of Scrub Hub’s business is scrubs for men and women, including six “top brands” in the industry. Scrub Hub is able to do embroidery on their uniforms, too.
Scrub Hub also offers other supplies, such as stethoscopes, shoes and compression socks.
Speaking to the need for scrubs, Vanderhoof cited the “huge” medical industry that includes health care providers Providence and Asante.
Some veterinarian services, such as Best Friends of Talent, use Scrub Hub, too. Tyler Bowers, practice manager there, said Best Friends was compensating employees for the scrubs they bought themselves before the animal hospital made the switch to Scrub Hub. Their garments are complete with embroidery from the locally owned scrub business.
Bowers and his wife, who is a veterinarian, had heard about Scrub Hub but never went there until they bought the clinic they have now. The couple needed uniforms for their employees.
“I reached out to see what they could do for us,” Bowers wrote in an email.
A lot, it turns out. Not only was Scrub Hub able to give them uniforms complete with embroidery. Best Friends got some swagger — jackets, to be precise.
What really impressed Bowers was Scrub Hub’s “level of communication and management of our orders.”
It can be difficult to find “the right set of scrubs,” Bowers added, but Medford-based Scrub Hub’s employees take the time to make sure customers get the scrubs “you not only need but love to wear.”
“Our work can be dirty, tough and uncomfortable,” Bowers wrote. “The last thing you want is to hate what you are wearing.”
Lisa Parks, director of Allied Health at Rogue Community College, said Scrub Hub is helpful now and even when the school was utilizing a helpful grant called Southern Oregon HOPE.
“This grant was aimed at supporting community members in poverty through health care trainings and gaining meaningful jobs to meet the industry demands,” Parks wrote in an email. “Many of our health care trainings were located near downtown Medford, and we wanted to partner with a local business to support our students' who needed supplies and scrubs for their health care trainings.”
Before using Scrub Hub, Allied Health was buying scrubs from a large retailer.
“We began sending students to Scrub Hub with vouchers to select scrubs, stethoscopes, good quality shoes, blood pressure cuffs and watches with a second hand,” Parks wrote. “We still send students to Scrub Hub, even though the Southern Oregon HOPE grant has ended. Students can get everything they need and try scrubs on before purchasing, all in one stop.”
When it comes to scrubs, more than medical professionals are buying them, according to Vanderhoof. Everyday people are, too.
“We do have a surprising amount of people who come in and buy scrubs for the ease of wear,” she said. “Maybe after they’ve had some sort of surgery or procedure, they want something that’s really easy to take on and off.”
The scrub bottoms are more popular among commoners, Vanderhoof noted.
“They’re comfortable and they’re going to last a long time,” she said.
Karlene McDonald, 78, wears scrub pants for hikes. She discovered them a few months ago, during an appointment for blood work, when she noticed a nurse wearing scrubs. The nurse happened to be taking her phone out of one of the scrubs’ deep pockets, a feature that appealed to McDonald.
“I can just pull my phone right out of my pant leg pocket and it’s right there; I don’t have to go digging for it,” she said. “That was the main thing I liked about it.”
Other features McDonald appreciates include the fact that scrubs dry “very quickly” in the rain. But mostly, she wears them in the spring and summer when it is dry.
“It definitely adds” to outdoor experiences, McDonald said. “They are lightweight, you can move easily in them, they are durable.”
She added that her scrubs will go with her next week to go to Death Valley for hiking, and later this year when she’ll tour the Broken Group Islands in British Columbia.
McDonald hoped that talking about scrubs would encourage people her age to “stay active and find the right gear” to enjoy the outdoors.
“There’s certainly no reason to sit in your rocking chair and do nothing,” she said.
Reach reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.