UPDATE: Reminder that it’s also the last day of business for two more Capitol Hill indie businesses. 14th Ave’s Tiempo is winding down after 13 years serving the Hill’s watch and timepiece needs while Broadway News will transition to focus solely on its online magazine sales business.
As CHS reported earlier this week, the challenge of operating an indie businesses on Capitol Hill has claimed another victim as second-hand shop The Anne Bonny is making Saturday its final day of business. CHS spoke with store owner Spencer Moody about the challenges of maintaining a small, independent business in the neighborhood.
Moody in static cling form (Photo: The Anne Bonny)
When Moody opened The Anne Bonny three-and-a-half years ago at its former location on Olive Way, he says he sought a change from his previous day job working in a warehouse. “I just didn’t want to have a regular job,” Moody said, “and I had always loved stores like this.” He had envisioned opening a store like The Anne Bonny sometime much further down the road as a retirement venture, but the opportunity emerged, and within four months the store was open for business.
“Everything in the store on day one I had acquired over the four-month period before,” Moody said. Moody accumulated many of the store’s quirky wares – which includes everything from furniture, to clothing, historic photographs, and an enormous wooden cross – from estate sales, and he recalled a drive from Austin, Texas, to Seattle as being particularly fruitful.
A year-and-a-half ago, Moody moved The Anne Bonny to its location at Summit Ave. and Mercer St., where rent cost a quarter of what it did at the Olive Way location. However, the reduced rent did not necessarily make paying the bills any easier.
“I don’t know what I make per hour,” Moody said, “but I know it’s not very much money. I could work in a bar two days a week and earn what I’m making six days a week here.”
Making small, independent businesses survive in Capitol Hill has been a struggle for a variety of reasons, as we have seen in recent weeks with the announced closures of Broadway News and Pho 900. Moody feels that part of the challenge has been getting customers to shop regularly at small businesses like his. “Talking about supporting small business does not actually support them,” he said. “What’s important to small businesses is people patronizing them.”
“It’s a very small segment of the population that will look into a small business before they go to an Ikea,” he said.
Moody’s short-term plan is to focus on earning more money, however that may be. He has performed for years with local music acts Murder City Devils and Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death, and he suggested perhaps focusing more on his music or art. “[Managing The Anne Bonny] has been good,” said Moody. “I’m proud of what I’ve done, and I’m looking forward to figuring out what I’m going to do next.”