The end of a more than 50-year-old Capitol Hill business will make way for a small pocket of LGBTQ growth in the neighborhood. It will also bring an answer to this frequently asked E Pike question: How exactly does a vacuum repair shop stay in business on Capitol Hill? The answer soon: It doesn’t, anymore.
The Wildrose just turned 30. Now Doghouse Leathers, another of the neighborhood’s defining LGBTQ businesses, is ready to expand after nine years as Capitol Hill’s outlet for male-focused kink.
In April, Jeff “Daddy” Henness and his partner Dan “Puppy” Daniels will be doubling the size of their 13th and E Pike shop as they expand into the Central Vaccuum Repair space next-door.
CHS was unable to reach the repair shop’s owner Dennis McDonnell for comment. McDonnell’s father, Dick McDonnell, opened the vacuum shop more than 50 years ago and was a renowned boxing coach. Dick passed away last year.
Henness and Daniels have been active in Capitol Hill’s kink and leather scenes for years and only recently left their 20-year stints at the The Cuff Complex. “We’re finding ourselves a new life,” Henness said.
In the expanded space, Henness plans to start offering boots and move his off-shelf inventory out of storage and into the shop. Henness is also soliciting opinions on what items customers would like to see on the shelves. The Doghouse crew plan to take over the space in February to start knocking down walls for an April open.
To say Doghouse came from humble beginnings is an understatement. Before they were known as “pop-up” shops, Henness was selling his leather goods from a 6-foot by 7-foot bathroom inside the Cuff. In 2010 Henness moved Doghouse into its current E Pike home.
Prior to securing the vacuum repair shop, Henness wanted to move next door into Fran’s Chocolates former manufacturing space after the company left the Hill for Georgetown last year. Fran’s CEO Andrina Bigelow told CHS in 2013 the company may one day open a retail location in the space.
Meanwhile, kink and sex retail seems to be a Pike/Pine growth industry. Castle Megastore is making plans to move onto E Pike into the former tattoo parlor between the Wildrose and Bimbos.
As for the overall state of local kink and leather, Henness says the scene is strong, but he worries about the shift from meeting people in bars to meeting people online.
“There’s less focus on alcohol, which is great, but there’s still the need for face time. there’s still the need for socialization,” he said. “That’s what some of these kids are missing. They don’t have the socialization connection.”
In addition to shops like Doghouse, Henness said Seattle’s robust scene of kink and leather social clubs remain the bedrock of the community.
Over at the Doghouse’s former home, the Cuff appears to be poised for a change in ownership. According to state records, Kook Im and Mi Park have filed for a new liquor license at the Cuff address. CHS has been told that a new partnership with Cuff owner Randy Fields is being formed. Fields has not yet returned our requests for comment.