A small space on Mercer at Summit that made a big impression on Capitol Hill culture will be closing, its backers announced Monday.
When Cairo was founded 8 years ago, it was with a vision to create a platform for underground art by emerging artists, musicians, and curators. We wanted to provide a supportive place for individuals to hone and elevate their craft while cultivating a sense of community and warmth in a city that isn’t always known for its open arms. The goal was never to have a “successful” retail store, rather a store that could support the artists and curators utilizing the rest of the space. Retail-wise, it’s always been a struggle. Cairo is tucked away, with minimal foot traffic, and making ends meet financially over the years has been a profoundly difficult challenge.
The message from Cairo owners Aimee Butterworth and Joel Leshefka said they’re still working out logistics of when the storefront will be shuttered.
Born as an art gallery and transitioned to a vintage fashion shop and performance venue, Cairo has been held up as an example of the Seattle nexus of art and commerce. Now, Butterwork and Leshefka say they’ll focus their retail efforts on the Prism shop in Ballard. We’ll have to check in with them about what’s next for Cairo’s annual Vibrations music festival in Volunteer Park.
The funky E Mercer space has a long history of creative uses — some of them were compiled here by CHS readers in 2008. Around the corner, Indian Summer still does the vintage thing on Summit while, across the street, at Bellevue and Mercer, the old Harry’s Fine Foods in the midst of a massive transformation.