‘Please refrain from donating to panhandlers’ — Capitol Hill Uncle Ike’s sign targets handouts

The message posted by @Needs1st calls out Uncle Ike’s for… well, a lot of stuff

The 15th Ave E location of the Uncle Ike’s pot retail empire has stirred up another call for boycott against the business.

Its owner says that a sign asking customers to donate to a neighborhood nonprofit and not give money to panhandlers was driven by the community — neighbors, merchants, and the city in meetings, and complaints on social media like Facebook and the Nextdoor neighborhood app.

But after the sign was moved recently from inside the store to replace a Harold & Kumar movie poster that had been framed in lights out front since the shop’s opening, its new prominence has neighbors talking, indeed.

A confluence of federal, state, and city regulations has pushed pot retailing in Seattle into concentrated pockets. On Capitol Hill, 15th Ave E at Republican and E Olive way are the areas that qualify across the spectrum of local and state requirements. The resulting concentration focuses the impact of the industry in specific areas of the neighborhood and the cash only nature of the business makes for a draw for people just looking to buy lunch and more entrepreneurial performers and artists looking for a little more.

Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg said he was partly just tired of the movie poster but also frustrated in state limitations that prohibited a more directly pot-related sign. Eisenberg said he decided to move the panhandling message from inside the store where it has been on display to the new location in blinking lights by the shop’s entrance.

In retrospect, the lights might be a bit much. Eisenberg says he also regrets being cheap about the donations. He is planning to update the poster with a promise to match donations made to the Country Doctor Health Clinics 100%. But, he wants the anti-panhandling message to stay.

UPDATE 4:30 PM: That was fast. Eisenberg says that somebody smashed up the sign overnight and has posted a security image and videos of “Hammer Girl” in an effort to identify the perpetrator:

UPDATE 1/4/2019: A new sign has gone up:


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91 thoughts on “‘Please refrain from donating to panhandlers’ — Capitol Hill Uncle Ike’s sign targets handouts

      • Leftists using anti-Semitic slurs in the (laughable) cause of civil rights ranks right up there.

        You just had to take a non-political blog post and foist in your unsubstantiated political rant.

        Congrats dude, you’ve only reinforced how delusional you are.

  1. It is a bit of a nightmare to go in to the store with the aggressive begging going on outside. Same with Walgreens across the street and Safeway on 22nd and Madison. I give at work where there is matching. I don’t need to be harassed, guilt tripped and shouted at for not handing money to random strangers at the doors of businesses.

  2. If people want to go in, buy something, and go somewhere where they can consume their purchase, that’s great. But it used to be possible to get a coffee at Ladro and enjoy it at the outside chairs and tables. But now, it’s not.

  3. I’ve lived on 15th for about 14 years and Ikes and Ruckus have really turned the street into a dump. I dislike the stores and panhandlers equally. I used to be able to take a walk without the glaring lights and the people screaming at each other or sleeping in the dirt. There’s so much human feces in the alley behind QFC now than there ever was before. I guess this is pot culture? yeesh. Keep it in SoDo then.

  4. Whoever wrote this article should live outside their echo chamber for a little longer. 15th has dropped far from grace since Ruckus opened. The panhandlers outside of Ikes can be ultra aggressive when you exit the store. They also follow people when they exit asking for handouts. The comment about Ladro is 100% on the mark, even the deck at Coastal Kitchen is risky this past year.

  5. Well, speak for yourself.
    Every time I hear Ike’s response to a whiny chorus of uber-politically-correct self-righteous types, the more reasonable he seems. Yeah, he might be a slightly too aggressive businessman, but he’s certainly not the right-wing extremist a bunch of probably Sawant groupies would like to paint him as.

  6. Love going to Jamjuree for lunch; but, it’s a mess with all of the homeless camped out and asking for handouts. Chased after a friend’s doggy who got loose in the alley behind QFC. My shoes are now in a dumpster due to all of the human fecal matter everywhere. We caught the puppy-boy, did he need a bath after his adventure.

    • Do you think the people who shit in the alley enjoy doing so? Or might they be people with feelings who would prefer to shit in the privacy of their own bathroom rather than be judged by someone like you who shits in their own bathroom while posting comments to capitolhillseattle.com? Shitting is not a crime. The lack of services for the homeless should be a crime. In the meantime, how about you message Kroger corporate and maybe they can hose down the alley in the meantime. It’s the very least they could do. And since they’re not even doing that, then feel free to boycott QFC. Flush.

      • Yes, Blah, shitting in the alley may be illegal, but if they’re homeless- whereTF are they supposed to shit? Are they supposed to just hold it?

      • With a little effort, they can find a place to shit legally (and without despoiling the neighborhood). For instance, there are public toilets in Volunteer Park and in Cal Anderson Park.

      • Alcoholics often can’t control when they poop. Meth can make you shit on the spot. But ya, it’s the services that are the problem.

      • “With a little effort, they can find a place to shit legally (and without despoiling the neighborhood). For instance, there are public toilets in Volunteer Park and in Cal Anderson Park.”

        Bob, as a medical person I’m surprised you’d say something like this. I’m not even homeless, but as a cancer survivor, I can tell you I’ve had times where the urge strikes and Ive been lucky I can get to anywhere. And and a lot of places available to me wouldn’t be for a homeless person, because they reserve facilities for customers only. Telling someone 15th they need to get to Volunteer Park or Cal Anderson–you might as well tell somebody driving on I-5, “sorry, you’ll need to hold it till Portland”.

      • Have we really reached the stage where it is wrong to think it is unacceptable for people to be shitting in public? First I needed to think it was ok for the homeless to leave mountains of garbage everywhere, now I have to be ok with human feces? GTFO. If you want to live with society, which is implied by living in the city, than you have to obey some rules. Not shitting in public is a pretty basic rule and law.

      • Matthew–I don’t think anyone thinks it’s OK for people to shit in public. Seems the question is cause/solution. Do we blame and penalize people who do it? Hoping that they will move elsewhere? Or do we fault the lack of public amenities and work towards adding more?

      • “Do you think the people who shit in the alley enjoy doing so?”

        80-90% of them do. That is the percentage of people living outside who reject all offers for services by the Navigation Team.

        A small percentage of homeless people are living outside and want to change their lives for the better. Those are the people who deserve our help. The aggressive panhandler addicts are not those people.

      • @Jim….. I agree with you to some extent, but I still think we should expect homeless people to find a restroom when the need isn’t urgent. After all, they seem pretty good at finding drugs and alcohol when they need them

        Theoretically, we should have more public toilets in places that the homeless frequent. But remember the very expensive “self-cleaning toilets” that were placed in Pioneer Square and Broadway a few years ago? They just became places where addicts would shoot-up, and they were even used for prostitution….and they were eventually removed because of these problems. So, I don’t think they are the answer.

        The real solution, of course, is to get addicts into treatment and help them to recover. But, as long as so many of them refuse efforts to do this (by the Navigation Team and nonprofits), that solution will continue to fail.

  7. Not that I’m thrilled about Uncle Ike’s on 15th……The panhandlers make it way trashier and seedy. I completely support and agree with the sign. I should be able to walk down the street and not feel harassed in front of QFC, Walgreens or any other place.

  8. Enforce the existing laws. Aggressive panhandling, drug dealing, possession of many substances, and public defecation are already illegal. We need an emphasis patrol on that corner.

    At least Ike’s has consistently tried to improve the situation, for his customers and neighbors alike. Hopefully Ruckus will be more on board now that they were robbed.

    Panhandling should be banned within two blocks of pot stores for all the reasons outlined in the article.

  9. Is it only in Seattle can “please refrain from donating to panhandlers and please donate to a neighborhood nonprofit” be perceived a right wing cause.

      • And only in Seattle can helping addicts kill themselves & funding violent drug gangs be considered compassionate.

        Stop, turn off the angry men on the radio, go outside and experience reality, reread your sentence and then rethink your life.

        If you still believe what you typed, you should immediately go check yourself into a mental hospital.

        There is hope for you to become a sane person again!

  10. “draw for people just looking to buy lunch and more entrepreneurial performers and artists looking for a little more.”

    A little more what? Lunch? Give me a break

    The vagrants and looking to buy heroin and maybe a “little more” Meth.

    • The Ballard blog had an even worse problem. Sockpuppet trolls from the “Safe Seattle” group had basically turned the comment section into a wretched, irrelevant hive of scum and villainy.

      They recently started requiring commenters to register and the comment section overnight turned into a relevant section of intelligent discourse again.

      Easy commenting is great, but these asshats ruin it for everyone. Wonder if CHS will follow suit?

  11. No Mimi. The comments here reflect the growing sentiment in Seattle that we have enabled and accepted the unacceptable. What is normal here is not normal elsewhere. 15th has had panhandlers for a long in front of every grocery and the drug store. The logic of some on this thread would have one believe that the tents on the Freeway were caused by Ike as well. I live a few blocks away and am delighted to see one business owner with courage, who is not afraid of expressing his views in a very constructive way I would add. If you see a panhandler with a sign, odds are that the sign is lying. Food is abundant in this town. Nobody is starving. The money is for heroin, meth and the like. Don’t be conned. Or invite the person to your home and save them from themselves.

    • “Wondering” is correct. There are free meals available for the homeless breakfast-lunch-dinner every day of the week in Seattle. It just takes a little effort to access it, but many homeless people prefer not to do so.

      If you give money to a panhandler, you’re fooling yourself if you think you are helping. All you’re doing is enabling his/her addiction.

    • What I see is that some of you want to blame every problem in Seattle on some of the most vulnerable people in our society. You do this over and over and over again on every topic on these blogs and it is reprehensible.We know for a fact that big businesses and the ultra-wealthy are actually doing much more harm to our society and yet you folks never seem to want to talk about that. It’s much easier for you to attack and blame “the homeless” and “the addicts”. Honestly, I think you are a bunch of heartless ,evil people. You are part of the problem with this country but by all means continue to support major tax breaks for corporations as they lay off the workers who made them rich. Keep pointing fingers at the least powerful people in society and ignoring the truth about the real criminals who are shitting all over working and middle class people in this country. Don’t think I’m going to come back and read your responses either. You people are toxic.

      • No Mimi…. people like you are toxic, to a civil society…. More than likely most of the people here, being Seattle and Capitol Hill of all places, are actually likely to be rather liberal… but some of us are realistic and pragmatic about the fact that not everyone is capable of caring for themselves… The people who are the real problem are the ones (you perhaps eh?) who *refuse* to accept that some people cannot be simply asked nicely to clean up their lives – who place individual liberty (to be able to do such lovely things as shit on the streets… which is a hazard to *all* of us… amazing that we haven’t been having hepatitis outbreaks too, like California) as highest ideal of all – above society and above even the health and safety of the individual who is harmful to themselves. Did you know that the ACLU actually argued that a woman who was observed to *eat feces* was not an immediate danger to herself, and therefore should not be given medical treatment against her will…. seriously… look it up.

        Some people need supervision so that they stay on their mental health medications… Some people need supervision so that they stay away from their addiction… Some people need supervision to keep them off of the streets…

        Ask me to fund addiction treatment, ask me to fund mental health treatment – you’ll get a yes from me, but ask me for anymore money to support people who are choosing the streets, either willfully or because of addiction or delusion and I’ll turn you down. We can all see where it’s gotten us.

      • “We know for a fact that big businesses and the ultra-wealthy are actually doing much more harm to our society and yet you folks never seem to want to talk about that.”

        I know – giving people jobs and risking capital to make investments in more jobs is like the WORST thing you can do to a person.

        Especially when you compare those horrific acts to, say, giving drug addicts cash to kill themselves with.

  12. I’m up there to shop often after work or on Saturday. I might see a couple of people asking for money outside of Rite Aid or QFC, just like nearly every other place in Seattle. More often I do not. Once someone asked for some food so I bought them some food. Have done so at SLU where I worked. Or, I say sorry nope.

    And, I there is usually a Real Change vendor. And, I see people collecting signatures for various things. Sheesh. In the 1980s people I know who lived just to the east would find needles in their back yards and such. Most of those mansions were group houses. People could find a place to rent and not end up having to live their struggles in full public view. We had mental healthcare, personal liberties issues always have to be addressed, but we had it.

    Is our collective inability to take care of people turning us into incredibly selfish and nasty people? No wonder all the young people these days, and not just the anarchists, seem to be on an ideological mission to demonize the white homeowner in Seattle. I am ashamed to be one reading this stuff.

    • The Real Change vendors, street performers, and people asking for money in front of QFC and Walgreens are no big deal and have been there for years. Since back when Walgreens was City People.

      The corner of 15th and Republican has changed dramatically since the pot stores opened. There did not used to be people yelling at you, or using crack, heroin, or meth openly on the corner. The illegal drug dealing at Walgreens has dropped off since they put in an extensive camera system, but is still a problem on 15th when it didn’t use to be.

      Or do you think Ladro just took out all that seating because they don’t like their customers? Or that you know better than Ike’s whether the panhandlers are creating a bad environment for customers and neighbors?

    • They are not a monolithic group. I evaluate people asking for money on a case-by-case basis. They are not all addicts. Some of them are mentally ill in a society that does not adequately treat mental illness. Some of them are homeless for reasons we are lucky enough to never experience personally. Sometimes people need a little compassion or something warm to eat and I’m happy to help. Merry Christmas!

      • The more addicted the person is, the better they are at fooling you for cash.

        And you are wrong about access to mental health services in this city. Harborview will take anybody who walks in the door at their excellent Mental Health and Addictions Services center.

        There is no cost for care, treatment or medicine whether you have the means to pay or not. On occasion, a new patient will wait a day or two for an open bed. But once in, a patient will have access to some of the best methods, care and treatments in the world.

        But, thanks to our messed-up civil commitment laws and fragmented social services delivery system, those suffering from serious mental health/addiction issues will never check themselves in. Instead, their broken minds gravitate towards self-medicating on the streets. And that is precisely why you only help people destroy themselves when you give them cash.

        Rather than feeling good about yourself and your supposed good deeds, how’s about focusing on the feelings and lives of the people you purport to care about?

  13. You Nimbys on 15th and the “better” parts of Capitol Hill should come stay closer to downtown where the panhandling and proliferation of homeless and mentally disturbed people is 10x worse than on 15th. And if you don’t like it now, trust it’s going to get worse before it gets better because no one can get a long or agree in this age of rampant tribalism. I’d cash out now, frankly, if I owned a home in that area.

    Side note: I used to buy from Ike’s but stopped doing so after noticing that all his employees always seemed so darn miserable all the time. Usually miserable employees is an indicator of poor management.

    • I prefer a fairly specific profile of weed which isn’t always available, so I need to patronize a couple of different weed stores, including Ike’s in the CD. Never noticed that any employees seeming miserable. Yes, the store’s a busy circus, but they’ve all been pleasant.

  14. Good for Uncle Ike, though I am not crazy about his store. There have always been panhandlers on 15th (at least in my 22 years here) but the crowd has changed since the pot shops. More homeless-ish stoner kids.

    Also unattractive the Spreading Embers comment on the Facebook post, which calls him a Zionist and is basically anti-Semitic.

    Hammer Girl, congratulations – you vandalized a Jewish store that sells legal marijuana in a progressive state.

    • People who have anything productive going on in their own lives, or anything constructive to add, can usually find better ways to contribute than raging and smashing things. What this tells us most of all about Hammer Infant is that she’s a loser.

  15. There are more homeless people, and people spare-changing in ALL parts of Seattle. I don’t think this can be pinned to one business owner but rather a whole list of socio-economic factors. Ladro is probably more of a draw than Ikes due to the tables and chairs outside. Perhaps discomfort at seeing people scrounging for scraps while one sips a $5 cup of coffee can be a reminder of the growing economic divide in our city. We can digest this by otherizing those less fortunate, blaming local businesses, or we can do what’s possible within our means to make a difference.

    • “Ladro is probably more of a draw than Ikes due to the tables and chairs outside.”

      It’s not the tables and chairs at Ladro drawing addicts to 15th Ave. E and Republican. If it were, they would have disappeared when the table and chairs disappeared. The tables and chairs disappeared shortly after I started noticing on a daily basis that sitting there had become just a crappy experience.

      I question if you, Neighbor, make daily visits to that corner because the timelines of the stores’ openings and the loss of the seating areas makes the cause pretty obvious to those who spend a lot of time at that corner.

      And I don’t think the discomfort of seeing people scrounging for scraps makes a difference because I have no problem sitting at the inside bar along where the wooden chairs used to be with my $5 coffee, and I can see them fine from that perch.

      I have sympathy for people in this situation. I know a lot of them are in this situation for reasons other than simply poor life choices. I overpay the usual QFC Real Change guy, Michael, because he’s there almost every single day, rain or shine, hot or cold, standing on his feet hawking his product which only refreshes Wednesdays. I simply can’t justify giving anyone else as much as I give him.

  16. This pot shop- since it’s opening -has increased unpleasant traffic in the neighborhood affecting other customers and locals alike. Finally after much effort some entrepreneurial responsibility from Ike to help clean the mess up the shop supported/enhanced for too long! This is a step into the right direction, but more must be done!

  17. Let me get this right:

    1. The neighborhood cries foul, “Too many panhandlers since Ike’s opened!”

    2. Ike’s attempts to address the issue in a reasonable manner.

    3. The neighborhood cries foul, “The poor panhandlers!”

    Seriously people?

  18. Hey you, yeah the one who hates this sign, and probably keeps a few dollars in their pocket just for Joey Homeless over there. STOP GIVING JOEY MONEY. Joey is an addict, and by giving him money you’re enabling him, giving him one more night on a cold street with a needle in his arm to die. Give your money to one of the hundreds of organizations in this city that are actually trying to help. Help give Joey a bed, not a bag.

    • STOP GIVING JOEY MONEY. Joey is an addict, and by giving him money you’re enabling him, giving him one more night on a cold street with a needle in his arm to die.

      You’re a genius! Joey will all of a sudden say “Gosh, maybe I should try not being poor, homeless and addicted!”. Suddenly clean, sober and no longer homeless, Joey will then go on to start a trillion dollar company and become the richest person in the universe! All because some mentally unstable blog sockpuppet refused to give him a dollar.

      I think you just saved Joey’s life. Make sure you pat yourself on the back EXTRA hard tonight, but take care not to strain yourself!

  19. They’re not necessarily houseless/ homeless! The houseless community gets a bad-rap, being identified with the aggressive beggars (two entirely different animals folks!) imHo; and as one of the houseless persons, this last round til’ March ’17, when i was blessed with a small apt & appropriate health-care in a SeaTac asst’d living community that, btw, i am most grateful for!

    Just my 2 cents – for what it’s worth – ty 4 your kind attn. :)

  20. Last year a guy asked me if I had a dollar so he could get something to eat. So, I went to dick’s and bought a burger and an extra one for him. When I handed it to him he threw it on the ground and said he didn’t want a burger, he wanted a dollar!….I told him its because of people like YOU that I will NEVER, EVER give again. Charities ok, bums on the street, forget it.

    • How has he made it worse. He has activated the locations of his shops with people who come and spend money there and elsewhere. The shops are well designed and in the case of the one on 23rd, entertaining with museum quality displays. He generates massive taxes to support state programs. He employs people. He does not sell to minors. His product makes people happy and hungry and is legal.

      His shop on 23rd has helped activate a place that was scary and dangerous, and is now bright and well-traveled.

      Most certainly he does not encourage panhandling and is not the source of the panhandlers in our community and has the courage of his convictions to speak truth to power and put dollars into a worthy community resource (Country Doctor). He gives back in other ways.

      There is so much avoidance of reality by many of those posting here. Panhandlers are disliked by most because they are by and large scam artists who lie about their needs, obfuscate the reality of their situations to themselves and others. There are options,
      but it might require compliance with social expectations, treatment, sobriety, effort and personal responsibility – a quaint notion that apparently offends some to no end. Those who give to them are about as smart as a parent who would feed their kids nothing but ice cream and chocolate because the kid asks for it. That one feels good after giving to a con man says more about the giver than the taker.

    • I believe that Drew Daly is referring to the reality that some pot shops attract panhandlers/addicts/alcoholics and make the street kind of sleazy…..as on 15th. This is certainly a downside to pot legalization.

  21. Not just on 15th….parts of Capitol Hill have become “Sacrifice Zones” to me, places where the hostility of homeless people is so great it’s not worth going there, like the Starbucks on Broadway and Pike, where you can get a show of all the different sorts of dysfunction that are present in the homeless community any day of the week. People act like zombies, like what’s happening in front of them really isn’t.

  22. As a progressive leader in community-based health care and social justice, Carolyn Downs/Country Doctor Clinics care for the most vulnerable members of our community. In a compassionate atmosphere of dignity and respect, we provide high-quality medical care to children and adults, no matter their ability to pay, including Medicaid patients. Because societal issues have a profound impact on people’s health — homelessness, gender inequity, immigration status and more — we holistically address our patients’ unique needs to create a healthier and more just community.
    ~Country Doctor Community Health Centers

  23. Smarter businesses would not go that direction. You reap what you sow. I, personally, would work with the business district and homeless organizations to address the issue. Signs on your business is just gross.

    • Homeless encompass drug users, mentally ill and others that are not capable of helping themselves.

      Expecting a homeless person to act and think like you, oh yea they wouldn’t be homeless they would be you.

      The homeless situation in Seattle and in America is a problem with our systems that do not take care of all our citizens. Although organizations can come in and try to help the homeless really just need a home and full time medical/rehabilitation depending on their individual issues.

      The sign is like “don’t feed the animals” at the zoo. It doesn’t mean they disappear. And being the business they are, some homeless are especially attracted to Pot Shops.

      Sorry, you need to just buckle up and live with whats in the streets.

  24. MOVE IKE’S DOOR to Parking Lot

    There is a solution to Uncle Ike’s problem with panhandling and sitting on the sidewalk; the latter being illegal.

    Move the entrance of the store to his parking lot, then he could legally remove any loiters and panhandling from the premises because it is his private property.

    When a group of neighbors suggested this to him via the WA State Liquor Cannabis Board Enforcement Supervisor, Mr. Eisenburg refused to do so.

    It also might be effective, if his clerks and security guards stepped up and called the police to remove the people illegally sitting on the sidewalk.

    • You seem hell bent on Ike’s. But the panhandlers and solicitors in front of the QFC stand right in the face of exiting shoppers. Ike’s is mild compared to other places on the Ave and unlike them is trying to do something about it. Safeway does nothing on their private property. You just hate weed and are known as such. No way should he be asked to move his entrance.

  25. As a patient of the clinic that benefits from the services, I’m disappointed to hear all the negative comments about Ian. Perhaps this is a learning moment for him. Country Doctor has provided
    wonderful care – a compassionate staff – for me and so many musicians of the Seattle area. Their waiting room is always filled with people of various backgrounds and circumstances.
    What a great resource for our community.
    I’d like to see Uncle Ike’s donate a lot more to this organization that has helped me recover from addiction, provided mental health and even paid for my medications when I had no funds to do so.

    Was the sign deeming to homeless – yes. Will Ian step up and support Country Doctor more with ongoing and big checks – I Hope so. I need it and I know many others depend on this clinic as their lifeline.
    Let’s focus on this for a minute in this story.

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