At its milestone, the shop might even be seen as part of a new old guard in a rapidly changing neighborhood, along with the likes of Bauhaus, R Place, Linda’s and Neighbours. And while “The Bag” survived the recession, the latest challenge for the shop is withstanding the disruptions to business caused by several active or soon-to-be active construction sites within stick-throwing distance, Feed Bag’s owner Anglea Pfiel said.
“With what I know we have four projects just within a few blocks of me,” Pfiel said. “Many people say how good this is going to be for me but I don’t think they understand what it is to try and survive two and three year projects.”
CHS wrote about the current “hard hat special” swarm of construction underway in the area here earlier this year.
The Feedbag came out of the deepest trenches of the recession with momentum, nearly doubling its floor space some four years ago as it moved just one door over from its original space to the Pike and Belmont corner.
When The Feed Bag first opened in the building, it was strategically placed next to a bygone lesbian and gay bookstore. “My girlfriend at the time was so hot on being next to the gay bookstore,” Pfiel said of The Feed Bag’s co-founder. “She wanted to be available to the gay community, although my feeling was: I want to be available to everyone but it would be lovely,” she said. “20-some years ago if you wanted to be somewhere you were most accepted, it would be Capitol Hill.”
The bookstore closed and The Feed Bag traded places with an also long-gone bottle shop.
While she says she supports growth and development in Seattle and in the neighborhood in general, Pfiel says she still wishes there were more help for businesses attempting to survive the impacts of construction projects. “It’s kind of funny, we went through this really hard time and you kind of feel like you’re digging your way out of a really downed economy and all the sudden … we’re inundated,” she said, motioning to nearby construction. “It’s all over Seattle, but it seems to be really concentrated on Capitol Hill,” she said. “It is a good thing for the city,” she said, “And [the developers] send out all kinds of letters and all kinds of niceties,” she said, “But I think one thing they don’t take in to account is they never seem to want to compensate the small businesses around them that are taking it on the chin while they do their business,” she said.
Pfiel said she was inspired to open The Feedbag over a conversation after she lost a job as a server at a local joint. “I went out to dinner with a friend,” she said, “And she said, ‘You know, you ran a business back east and you always did well,” Pfiel, a German-born transplant from Baltimore, recalled. “She said, ‘You know it’s funny your always talking about me always running to the store for my pets, and how I’m always taking care of my pets,’ and I said, ‘Yeah — always getting that feed bag on,’ and it just kind of stuck,” Pfiel said, “And we laughed about it,” she said. “In a month I was open.”
“I started this business on less than $15,000,” Pfiel said. “I can’t imagine anyone trying to start something the way that I did,” she said. “I had a girlfriend at the time I was involved with, and we put our pennies together and did it.” A few years later, Pfiel bought out the other half of the business and became full owner.
Lance from West Seattle is one of the loyal Feed Bag customers. Lance said he’s been coming to The Feedbag for 6 years to shop for his pup Clive, and spoke nothing but praise. “I used to live on Beacon Hill for a long time and I came down here and met Angela,” he said. “She has the best products,” he said, “And she’s just awesome, she’s good people – she’s always taken real good care of me,” he said. “[Clive] will be a little bit sick and I’ll bring him to her to ask her questions before I even take him to a vet,” he said. “She’s steered me in the right direction, and called it; I’ve taken him to the vet a couple times and she called it right on,” he said. “She knows her stuff.”
More than just a place to buy stuff, The Feedbag is a social hub for animals and their people from all walks of life, Pfiel says. “You just get everything and everybody in here, and that ‘s what I most appreciate,” she said. “When the car dealership used to be here it was kind of entertaining to watch those [customers] come in here and mix with my daddies and boys who come here during the day” she recalled. “One was chained up, and I thought, ‘Oh, I know how to deal with this, but … ,’ and the woman handled it beautifully – she just kind of smiled – it’s just those kind of moments in here that are just awesome,” Pfiel said.
“People’s pet’s die – that’s tough,” she said. “I feel like we’re not just a store for Capitol Hill,” she said. “We’re a place where people come to talk.”
The Feed Bag also carries a plethora of chew toys, animal health products, supplies for birds and reptiles, and boasts a mean collection of cat castles. The store is located at 518 E Pike. You can learn more at thefeedbagonline.com.