Public Bikes comes to Capitol Hill, taking over former Black Coffee space on E Pine

Here’s a vignette of retail today on Capitol Hill: An anarchist cafe closes and a stylish, San Francisco-based bicycle shop takes its place. CHS has learned that Public is opening its first Seattle location at the E Pine and Summit space formerly occupied by Black Coffee Co-op.

With the ink barely dry on the lease, Public’s head of sales and marketing Dan Nguyen-Tan told CHS he expects the shop to open this spring.

“We looked at several neighborhoods and Capitol Hill was always at the top of the list,” he said. “It’s central, bike friendly, and we love that our location is along the Pine Street corridor.”

The shop will primarily focus on selling and servicing Public bikes, but Nguyen-Tan said some general repair services will be offered depending on the amount of parts the store can stock. Continue reading

Revival fashions vintage opportunity from tiny store above Broadway

Busacca (Images: CHS)

Busacca (Images: CHS)

DSC_8756As Red Light Vintage prepares for one last liquidation sale on Broadway before leaving its space and making way for Lifelong Thrift, another source of recycled fashion and style is settling into Capitol Hill. Nestled atop Jai Thai on the western corner of Thomas and Broadway is Revival, a “one-stop-shop” boutique offering to buy, sell, and trade an array of items such as clothes, furniture, home accessories, and and jewelry.

Though the shop has been on the block for around half a year already, it still is somewhat of a “secret spot,” due to its above-street-level location, according to co-owner and San Francisco transplant Ashley Busacca.

“People are like ‘I live across the street and I had no idea you were here, when did you open?’ I’m like ‘six months ago!’” Continue reading

Attention Pike/Pine lovers: Castle announces its plans for E Pike move

B9mHCAnIcAAatYJThe Arizona-based “megastore” chain known for mass-merchandising lube and nipple clamps still hasn’t confirmed our report but the sign doesn’t lie. Broadway’s Castle sex store is leaving Capitol Hill’s main drag for a new berth on E Pike in a former tattoo shop.

Sandwiched between the Wildrose and Bimbos, the buildout is in the early stages of the new 2,000 square-foot store. In November, the new Out of the Closet thrift store and the new home AHF Pharmacy joined Lifelong in a new retail, health, and office facility across the street from where Castle is readying its new home. Around the corner, longtime Pike/Pine purveyor of kink The Crypt still lurks. Down E Pike, Babeland celebrated its 20th anniversary on the Hill in 2013. Meanwhile, Doghouse Leathers is expanding on upper E Pike.

Castle joins a thriving and sometimes tumultuous Pike/Pine nightlife economy still coming to grips with the Woo! Girl and what feels like an influx of not always sensitive new visitors.

CHS reported on the planned move in December after the retailer’s management had toyed with an on again, off again move from its longtime Broadway home citing public safety issues on Broadway and the poor maintenance of Castle’s building.

Broadway, meanwhile, will need to deal with another gaping retail hole after the OfficeMax chain confirmed it is closing its Capitol Hill location after only one year of business.

Capitol Hill’s vacuum repairman says goodbye to his 50-year-old family business

Central Vacuum owner Dennis McDonnell has removed most of the pictures that once covered his shop walls (Image: CHS)

On a recent afternoon, a customer picking up his vacuum from Capitol Hill’s Central Vacuum Service was relieved to find he had $40 in his pocket. The man wanted to pay for his $36 repair with a credit card, but Central Vacuum has been cash only since it opened in 1959.

“I’ve been saying it for years: one of these days, we’ll enter the 1990s,” said owner Dennis McDonnell as he made change for his customer.

Sadly, that day won’t come for Central Vacuum. CHS previously wrote about how the E Pike vacuum repair shop would be closing at the end of January as Doghouse Leathers plans to expand into the space. Still up is the shop’s familiar red Hoover sign that, for years, has marked the the E Pike block between 13th and 14th Aves. McDonnell, 59, is still packing up decades of accumulated vacuum parts and souvenirs.

It’s not how he wanted to go out. McDonnell’s father, Dick McDonnell, opened the business in a space next-door and he remained a permanent fixture in the store until his death last year at 87. Following his father’s death, McDonnell said it was his family’s decision to close the business and he reluctantly agreed. The McDonnell family still owns the building, which includes the two retail spaces and an apartment upstairs.   Continue reading

What the 16-story Broadway Whole Foods development will look like

(Image: Tiscareno Associates)

(Image by Tiscareno Associates)

(Image by Tiscareno Associates)

(Image by Tiscareno Associates)


Though its first round in the Seattle design review process isn’t slated until March, city planners are getting their first looks at the plans for the new Whole Foods grocery store and 16-story apartment tower planned for the intersection of First Hill and Capitol Hill at Broadway and Madison.

Developer Columbia Pacific Advisors and the architects of Tiscareno Associates are preparing plans for a 160-foot-tall, 288-unit apartment building featuring a two-level 40,000 square-foot street-level “urban grocery,” and five stories of underground parking for 374 motor vehicles and 98 bikes.

“The four sides of the project site face different neighborhoods. The design responds to these different areas with one unified concept. forms and materials wrap the corners to create continuity,” a draft of the “early design guidance” document for the project reads. Continue reading

After 15 years, Metro Clothing is closing but won’t leave another hole in Broadway retail

Changing neighborhood dynamics and shifting fashion styles have conspired to end Metro Clothing’s 15-year run of selling alternative and goth clothes on Capitol Hill.

Last week, owner Angel Theurer began putting up signs announcing a liquidation sale in order to bring on new line of spring clothing. But Theurer and Metro founder Carl Medeiros have now decided to close Metro and start fresh with a new clothing store in the same space.

“A lot more New York influenced, edgy but not gothic, and definitely low price points,” is how Medieros described the new direction he wants to take. Medieros said the new offerings will be a higher-end complement to Panache, his clothing shop next door. Continue reading

Broadway OfficeMax is closing in February

IMG_9040Ripple effects from a multi-national corporate acquisition are once again making an impact on Capitol Hill. This time, it’s not a local brewery takeover, but the closure of an office supply chain store.

CHS has learned that the Broadway OfficeMax will be closing its doors in late February, just one year after it opened in the mixed-use Lyric building. Around 400 other OfficeMax locations were slated to close last year as part of Office Depot’s 2013 takeover of the company.

UPDATE (1/28): An OfficeDepot corporate spokesperson said the Broadway store would close on February 21st.


An employee at the Broadway store told CHS that staff were notified of the closing a few weeks ago. Pillar Properties owns the Lyric apartments, but the company does not control the OfficeMax commercial space. A Pillar spokesperson said they’ve reached out to the individual who owns the space for more details on what may come next. We’ll update here if we hear anything.

The Broadway OfficeMax was one of six nationwide “vector” stores — a smaller-format concept meant to target urban neighborhoods. CHS broke the news of the company’s move on to Broadway in August 2013 and was there in January just before the store’s grand opening. At the time, store employees said the companies strategy was to offer a range of businesses services to the neighborhood’s independent shop owners. The Broadway location also includes around 90% of office supplies found in OfficeMax’s regular sized stores.

An OfficeMax corporate spokesperson did not return CHS’s request for comment on the Broadway closure.

It’s unclear what the future holds for the atypically large Broadway space that sits between Thomas and E Olive Way. With nearly one square mile more than 5,000 square feet of retail area, the space is small by box store standards but probably too large for many independent retailers. It’s possible the store could be divided in half with two separate entrances.

Broadway recently lost two longtime retailers when Redlight and Aprie fashion stores shuttered in November. Lifelong Thrift is preparing to take Redlight’s place, but is seeking some extra funds to help pay for the move from 10th and E Union.

Down the block, Metro Clothing is holding a liquidation sale to make way for of major changes in inventory. Metro owners assured customers on Facebook the sale was not a signal the store was closing.

Meanwhile, Broadway’s Castle Megastore sex shop is making plans to move to E Pike.

Lifelong Thrift readies for Broadway with sale, moving campaign

(Image: Lifelong)

(Image: Lifelong)

With plans to open in February March on Broadway in the former home of Red Light Vintage, Capitol Hill’s Lifelong Thrift is clearing the shelves and preparing for the move with a big sale and a fundraising campaign to boost the nonprofit’s move from E Union.

Saturday is the last day of business for the shop at 1017 E Union — you can find some sweet deals on the final day:

As you all know, out last day of operation at 1017 E Union will be Saturday Jan. 24th. So we will be having a store wide 75 percent off sale, starting Friday Jan. 23rd. Items that are .50¢ will not be further discounted.

Lifelong is also holding an online giving campaign to help with additional unexpected costs from a one-month delay in the move:

The Lifelong Thrift is a Seattle thrift shop institution known for awesome one-of-a kind items. It has resided on Capitol Hill since the 1980s when, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, it was a place of togetherness…a place the symbolized hope in a time of heartache. Today, it is one of the few, if not the only, thrift stores in Seattle that offers a voucher program to HIV positive individuals in need of basic living essentials, like warm coats, dishes, or even an outfit to wear to a job interview. The Lifelong Thrift has given $500,000 in vouchers through the years!

The thrift store is bursting at the seams and can grow no more in its current building while the number of clients served by Lifelong continues to grow. The good news is, the thrift store announced in the Fall that it would be relocating to a new location on Broadway in Capitol Hill — a space that is three times the size of the current space. The new space will allow the thrift store to double the amount of contributions back to Lifelong’s programs delivering food, housing, and health services to people living with chronic illnesses including HIV/AIDS.

If you give $2,500, you’ll get a fitting room in the new Broadway location dedicated in your name.

Rising rent has kids clothing shop Bootyland readying for move that might take it off Capitol Hill

Cassidy and the Bootyland kids (Image: Bootyland)

Cassidy and the Bootyland kids (Image: Bootyland)

Capitol Hill shopkeeper Ellie Cassidy isn’t exactly sure what is next for E Pine and the streets and neighbors surrounding her kids clothing boutique Bootyland.

“Our neighborhood is in a crazy transition,” Cassidy said.

As it begins its 19th year of business on Capitol Hill, Bootyland and its selection of kids wear, toys, women’s clothing and “independent style” might be on the move.

“We’re still trying to figure out where,” Cassidy says about the possibility of leaving the neighborhood. “We’re considering it because there aren’t a lot of small retail spaces available now.”

What is certain is Cassidy will say goodbye to the 1317 E Pine location where the original group of Bootyland momma founders started the store in 1996. Her $25 per square foot rent is going up somewhere around 20 to 30%, she says, making for slim pickings for a children’s retail operation to continue in The Chester building at 13th and Pine. Vintage instant camera shop Rare Medium has already exited the building and moved to the Central District on 21st and Union next to Central Cinema.

Cassidy back in the early 2000s when she first started working at the E Pine boutique (Image: Bootyland)

Cassidy back in the early 2000s when she first started working at the E Pine boutique (Image: Bootyland)

While the specifics of what comes next might still be up in the air, Cassidy is rallying support for her impending move with a fundraising campaign to give shoppers and fans of the store a way to help Bootyland make the big change:

We will continue this tradition and with your support, you will be an integral part of it! We need $5,000 to $10,000 to complete our transition into a new home. Your funds will enable us to cover the cost of moving and setting up an amazing space full of vibrant, creative goods. Your support will help us put the word out about our new digs and our passion for design and ethics.

She’s also encouraging customers to come in and do some shopping now or buy gift certificates as she builds up the funding she’ll need to make the move and, she says, grow in the process.

“Transition is always a great opportunity,” Cassidy said.

Bootyland will hold a “Love” party to celebrate its time on E Pine — and its move — in February. You can learn more about the campaign and events here.

Uncle Ike’s first Christmas comes up big but 2015 starts with Washington pot supply (finally) exceeding demand

(Source: WSLCB)

Uncle Ike’s sales outpaced state growth totals on the holiday revenue end of things (Source: WSLCB)

Uncle Ike's first customers were paying $26 for the shop's cheapest gram (Photo: Alex Garland)

Uncle Ike’s first customers were paying $26 per gram for the cheapest strains, now selling for $10. (Photo: Alex Garland)

If you’ve been avoiding Seattle’s retail marijuana shops because of the sky high prices, now might be the time to make a visit . Across the state, retail marijuana prices have dropped by over half in some places from when sales first started last summer.

At Uncle Ike’s, Capitol Hill’s nearest recreational pot retailer at 23rd and Union, some strains are now selling for around $10 per gram. The average gram was selling for $30 when the store opened in September. At the time, the state hadn’t permitted enough growers to meet demand, but the tides have apparently turned.

“Processors are now just sitting on hundreds of pounds and they can’t sell it,” said Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg. “There are more growers coming on line every day.”

In fact, Eisenberg said the CHS advertiser has so much surplus that he’s having to build out more storage for the glut of pre-packaged pot. Eisenberg filed construction permits for the work last month.

The lower prices may get more customers in the door, but Eisenberg said he and other I-502 retailers still can’t compete with the less regulated and less taxed medical market. This week, City Attorney Pete Holmes issued a call to state lawmakers to fold the medical system in the I-502 framework, a proposal Eisenberg said he supports.

Still, Uncle Ike’s remains one of the most successful shops in the state. State sales jumped 5% on average between November and December, while sales at Uncle Ike’s jumped 23%. Eisenberg’s shop was responsible for 4.15% of total marijuana sales in the state in December with just over $700,000 in pre-tax sales.

An ongoing lawsuit from a neighboring church isn’t slowing Ike’s down, either. In December, a King County Superior Court judge denied Mount Calvary Christian Center’s attempt to shut down Ike’s while their lawsuit against the business moves through court. The church is suing the pot shop for operating too close to a facility it says it being used as a teen center.

Meanwhile, a shuttered pot delivery service that operated on Capitol Hill is getting a new life in the legal market. Last month, the state liquor board approved the Winterlife Coop to become a marijuana processor at a north Seattle facility. Winterlife’s plans include producing “solvent-less” concentrates for vaporizers using alcohol rather than petroleum.

“Our main focus is edibles and concentrates as we believe that more and more the customer base will move away from smoking as the primary delivery source,” Winterlife’s Evan Cox told CHS. “It’s quite a change, but we’ve been preparing for it for some time and we’re overjoyed.”

And one last note: The timeline for an I-502 store opening on 15th Ave E is getting moved back again. Samuel Burke told CHS he now hopes to open tōk sometime in May.

Pop culture art gallery calling it quits on Capitol Hill

You can build marquee arts projects and create a new arts district to promote the neighborhood — but, still, retail art galleries are going to have a rough go of it on Capitol Hill.

“The rent is expensive,” Ltd. Art Gallery owner James Monosmith tells CHS. “If you’re not dealing with a high cash industry, it’s really difficult to deal with that rent.”

That cold hard fact coupled with his focus on a new job has lead Monosmith and his wife Melissa Monosmith to shut down their brick and mortar presence on Capitol Hill after moving to Seattle four years ago to create the gallery business.

Ltd. and its remaining collection of pop and sci-fi art will live on via the Internet only. You’ll find the Boba Fett-rich collection at

While there is art for sale on walls nearly everywhere you turn inside its cafes, dedicated art galleries on Capitol Hill are a dying breed, to be sure. The Hill recently said goodbye to the latest casualty when E Olive Way’s Blindfold shuttered after two years of business.

After opening in a space low on Pike and bringing to a stop a seemingly endless going out of business sale at the shoe store before it, Ltd. had relocated in what seemed like a potentially cunning plan to align itself in geeky matrimony with the Gamma Ray Games gaming shop and lounge on E Pine. The move didn’t provide the boost(er pack) the Monosmith’s needed. “We were tying to make it work. As geeky of our artwork is, it’s not exactly the same demographic.”

What was missing, Monosmith said, were customers who would move beyond liking the art to actually purchasing it. With four years of gallery business under his belt, what does Monosmith think of the potential for retail art on Capitol Hill?

“The importance of a gallery is huge,” he said. “It’s the best way possible to showcase. If it’s just up on the wall above diners or whatever it ends up being an afterthought.”

Ltd.’s meat space presence will go out with one last show in February.

Grocery-focused real estate investment company pays $43 million for ‘an Entire City Block’ of Capitol Hill

(Image: Broadway Market)

(Image: Broadway Market)

A Jackonsville, Florida company that has grown into a $6 billion corporation by acquiring and operating grocery store-focused shopping centers now owns “an Entire City Block of Mixed-Use Property” on Capitol Hill.

Regency Centers Corporation announced last week it has purchased the Broadway Market shopping center home to business centered around one of two QFC grocery stores on Capitol Hill’s stretch of Broadway. The publicly traded real estate investment company paid $43 million for the 110,000 square-foot shopping center, property records indicate. Continue reading

Central Vacuum Repair shuts it down after 50 years, making way for E Pike leather shop expansion

The old storefronts will soon work together on E Pike just above 13th

The old storefronts will soon work together on E Pike just above 13th



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. Continue reading

CHS Pics | Central District Holiday Party — Plus, a weekend of Hill area pop-up gift markets


Scenes from Thursday’s Central District Holiday Party. More here (Images: CHS)

While the Grinch blew away Thursday night’s A Holiday in Volunteer Park event with strong winds (it won’t be rescheduled, either, organizers say), the frosting and sugar cookies were keeping celebrants warm at the annual Central District Holiday Party hosted by Central Cinema. The other key component (besides decorating cookies) of the holidays gets its turn over the weekend and beyond around Capitol Hill with another round of special pop-up markets. Happy shopping!

  • Friday through Sunday: Gay City LGBT Library Surplus Used Book Saleinfo — Gay City Health Project’s Michael C. Weidemann LGBT Library is pleased to announce our next Surplus Used Book sale, featuring surplus LGBT fiction and non-fiction books for sale. It’s a great way to build up your personal library, and the proceeds benefit ours!
  • Saturday — Punk Rock Flea Marketinfo — They said we were getting too big for our britches, and we proved them right! Seattle’s best damn flea market has moved into a BIGGER, BETTER and BALLSIER location. Now located in the Central District’s defunct post office, and with more vendors than ever, we are going to stuff your stocking like never before! The best Punk Rock Flea Market THAT EVER HAPPENED burns the beard off holiday shopping on December 13th, from noon to 10pm at the newly christened “Punk Rock Post Office” on the corner of 23rd Ave. & Union St.MAINFLIERHOLIDAYBIZARRE
  • Sunday — Badwill Market — Holiday Bizarreinfo — BadWill Market is back and we are teaming up with The Rhino Room and hosting “HOLIDAY BIZARRE” a festive pop up market featuring a variety of vendors.
  • Sunday — Ghost Gallery “Vintage Home”info — Stop by for some mulled wine & cookies and browse a wonderful Vintage pop-up featuring local vendors
  • Monday — Public Market Pop-Up Shop at Café Pettirossoinfo — Next Monday, December 15th, at Café Pettirosso we want to help you fight the Mondays and win Christmas at the very same time. Hard, but a totally doable goal! Amiright? Monday is undoubtedly the dullest day of the week; it’s back to the grind with the weekend only a glint in your not-nearly-rested-enough eye. Add holiday shopping and the grind just got stressful.
  • Saturday 12/20 — The Savvy Marketplace at Sole Repairinfo — The last, best shopping experience of the year! Come join us in connecting our local community and donating to the well-being of our furry friends. At The Savvy Marketplace, you can expect to find the highest quality, local vendors, live music, a huge raffle, full bar and much more! Admission is free, but donations are appreciated! All donations and raffle proceeds go to a local no-kill animal shelter.

Looking for more Capitol Hill gift ideas? Check out the Shop the Hill page.

Capitol Hill upscale fashion boutique Totokaelo moving headquarters to New York

Totokaelo as it opened on the Hill in 2012 (Images: CHS)

Totokaelo as it opened on the Hill in 2012 (Images: CHS)

Totokaelo - Capitol Hill, SeattleWith the goal of becoming “the biggest luxury fashion brand in the world,” Capitol Hill upscale fashion boutique owner Jill Wenger is taking her act to New York City.

“We’re leaving so we can globalize,” Wenger told the Seattle Times. “I want to be the biggest luxury fashion brand in the world, and the most coveted and the most beloved.”

The current flagship Totokaelo, opened adjacent Elliott Bay Book Company in summer 2012 as part of a mini retail revival on 10th Ave in the middle of Pike/Pine’s nightlife success and expanded in 2013 to add a lower level men’s floor, will remain open. But the company’s executive core is following Wenger to New York for adventures we’ll probably be reading about soon in glossy magazines.

Wenger moved her store from Pioneer Square to 10th Ave as the pendulum swung in the area from tenants like sex club Basic Plumbing to Odd Fellows Cafe and Elliott Bay in 2012. CHS spoke with Wenger about her entrepreneurial spirit as Totokaelo debuted on the Hill. The East Coast connection has always been strong with early Totokaelo media write-ups frequently including the soundbite that “80%” of the shop’s online sales were made in New York.

The move leaves behind a seemingly posh bit of office space in the Odd Fellows building next door. “CREATIVE/DESIGN OFFICE FOR LEASE,” the listing reads, “as seen on Remodelista.” The former Totokaelo HQ will run you $6,500/month for the 2,500 square-foot space with 25-foot ceilings. “The space is amazing,” the listing promises.

 "I work best in clean, calm, and vibrant spaces—spaces where you stay energized but maintain focus," Wenger told Remodelista. "I like white because it's bright and reflects natural light through a room. Painting desks and objects white eliminates visual blocks, so that heaviness just disappears." (Image: Remodelista)

“I work best in clean, calm, and vibrant spaces—spaces where you stay energized but maintain focus,” Wenger told Remodelista. “I like white because it’s bright and reflects natural light through a room. Painting desks and objects white eliminates visual blocks, so that heaviness just disappears.” (Image: Remodelista)

You can visit Totokaelo Seattle at 1523 10th Ave. Learn more at