E Union kids’ shop Magpie going out of business after five years in the CD

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Central District children’s toy and clothing store Magpie plans to close up shop — just as development in the area has hit full stride.

“It’s been a good run,” said owner Malia Keene.

Keene first opened the store in the fall of 2011 at the corner of 18th Ave and E Union St, and two years ago she moved it to its current location, 2002 E Union. Though Keene says that the neighborhood has certainly changed over the years and cited more people and more traffic, she says the development wave did not really change the kind of customers that came into the shop.

Recently, however, business has been slowing.

“In the last year it’s gotten much slower in the shop,” said Keene. “It’s really hard for retail.” Keene says she hears anecdotes from small businesses across Seattle that are struggling to stay afloat. “When I talk to businesses in other cities, it seems easier.”

Keene said the difficulty that her store and others like it face in Seattle may be an “unfortunate side effect” of the lack of expendable income that stems from a high cost of living coupled with a DIY culture. Keene thought another factor might be “perceived value” – she says that even if her handmade toys are the same price as a toy at a big box store, people will often be unwilling to spend that money on what they see as a luxury item.

“There’s this nice idea of having small businesses, but it’s not going to last,” she said.

Keene is not sure when Magpie will officially close — it could be as soon as this week. In the meantime, the storewide sale continues.

You can learn more at facebook.com/MagpieKid.

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