Seattle’s largest pot purveyor and the city’s oldest shoe cobbler are finally ready to make their improbable double-header debut on Capitol Hill.
Ian Eisenberg opened his third Uncle Ike’s marijuana shop at 15th and E Republican Friday at 8 AM while Ray Angel debuted his re-opened Angel’s Shoe Repair next door after closing last year.
Eisenberg said he expects his Capitol Hill shop, the neighborhood’s second, will be less of a destination than the first Uncle Ike’s on 23rd and Union. “Probably more of a neighborhood feel, more people walking in because there’s less parking,” he said.
Prices and offerings on 15th Ave E are planned to mirror the locations in the Central District and White Center, which opened in August. Eisenberg said there are no special celebrations planned for Friday as the space, formerly home to Capitol Hill Animal Clinic, got its final touches this week.
The opening should also attract less attention, positive and negative, than the 2014 opening in the Central District. Since then, Black Lives Matter marches have occasionally stopped at the shop to protest the selling of legal marijuana on a corner that had long been known for arrests of black men during the so-called war on drugs. So far, there has been little public pushback to expanding up the hill. “The neighborhood has been pretty welcoming,” Eisenberg said.
Uncle Ike’s continues to be a dominating force in Seattle’s legal marijuana market and has long been the second most profitable pot business in the state. In September the business reported $1.3 million in sales and recorded $27.3 million in total sales since opening in 2014, state records show.
Uncle Ike’s is a CHS advertiser.
While some people may prefer the smaller confines of his competitors, Eisenberg said the most important factor in his success has been price — Uncle Ike’s markets itself on having the lowest prices in the city. The local pot chain is hammering home its “cheap pot” tagline directly comparing its prices to Ruckus, which opened around the corner in December 2015.
Ruckus owner Sam Burke told CHS he is taking a different approach to the business. “I want to find, for any price point, the best pot available,” Burke said.
CHS has documented the ongoing rivalry between Burke and Eisenberg as the two have tussled for space — and sometimes left older neighborhood businesses struggling in their wake — on one of the only pot-friendly corners of Central Seattle. Ruckus actually took its name from the pot drama that played out between the two owners. Burke said he’s thankful the business has not lived up to its name since opening.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised that the neighborhood seems to have incorporated us with very little ruckus, excuse the pun,” he said.
Sales at Ruckus have steadily climbed since it opened last year, according to state data, but have come nowhere close to the much larger Uncle Ike’s. In September the shop reported $289,618 in sales and $1.7 million in total sales. However, Burke may soon have an opportunity to expand with neighbor Postal Plus planning to move in March.
Like most I-502 store owners, Burke had no experience in the marijuana business before opening his shop, but did come with some relevant experience. In the 1980’s he owned two video rental shops in the region but closed them when the larger chain stores moved in.
“In the video business, the inventory is predictable. Everyone had the same opportunity to get the same titles,” he said. “A lot of growers I have no exposure to. It’s a constant unearthing to find the people we want to carry in the store.”
How I-502 shops will handle medical marijuana remains a looming question for most owners. For now Burke says he will offer anyone on the state’s patient list a 10% discount. Eisenberg said he is still waiting on rolling out medical sales, but it would likely happen at the 15th Ave E location first as the space is slightly larger than his other two stores.
Friday’s Ike’s opening in the overhauled building formerly home to an animal clinic also includes the debut of a new retail space in the project for longtime 15th Ave E neighborhood business, Angel’s Shoe Repair and cobbler Ray Angel. Plans for a Full Tilt ice cream component to the project were, however, scrapped.
Looking ahead, Eisenberg is eager to see how sales of various product types including flowers, vaporizing, and edibles differ across the three neighborhoods Ike’s now serves — Capitol Hill, White Center, and the Central District. As for when the confluence of city, state, and federal regulation will loosen up, Eisenberg said he expects to see lounges where smokers can gather before any expansion of areas where new retail stores might be allowed.
Uncle Ike’s Capitol Hill is located at 501 15th Ave E and is open 8 AM to 11:45 PM. You can learn more at uncleikespotshop.com.