If you’ve experienced spotty service and inconsistent business hours at Capitol Hill’s “harder, more extreme” sex shop, be gentle. These are rough times at The Crypt.
A sign has gone up announcing a “50% off,” going out of business sale at the 11th Ave purveyor of kink. “We’ll miss you Seattle.” We’re checking to find out the final day of business. Let us know if you’ve heard.
Behind the scenes, the store is getting kicked out. Earlier this week, the court sided with the sex shop’s landlord with a $11,706.22 judgement on unpaid rent against the company that operated the Pike/Pine store as part of a chain of six stores in Washington, California, and Colorado. Attempts to reach parent company Crypto Technology or its other stores have not been successful — every phone number we have found has been disconnected and the ecommerce website is gone.
CHS visited 11th Ave’s The Crypt last summer for a peek inside the Hill’s kink shop:
“We’re definitely harder, more extreme than other stores,” said manager Shawn Allen Hall, not far from the gagged mannequin hanging from a sex swing that greets customers at the front door. On the other hand, the seen-it-all staff are anything but hard and extreme. “We just want to make sure you feel as comfortable as possible,” Hall said.
The history we were told at the time went something like this: The first Crypt opened in San Diego in 1977 to meet the needs of the city’s BDSM community, but the Seattle shop became the flagship store after opening in the 1980s. Originally on Union and then Broadway, The Crypt made its move to 11th and Pine in 2007, replacing The Vogue nightclub.
The shop’s legend spread wider than its front doors and is part of a kinkier time in Pike/Pine before Basic Plumbing became a 24-hour diner. One story related to CHS — and wholly unconfirmed — claims crews preparing the Sunset Electric site for development found a sex room with kinky torture gear in the empty auto row-era building. Whether the gear was Crypt-branded or not, we’ll leave to your imagination.
It’s also not the first time CHS has covered a dispute between landlord Matt Basta and one of his Pike/Pine tenants. In 2010, Grey Gallery got the boot but its owner said he was happy to go.
So, how much, exactly does a sex shop pay for rent in Pike/Pine? According to court documents, The Crypt was on the hook for more than $7,000 a month:
It must have been a good enough deal — according to the affidavit, the company signed a five-year extension in 2012.
The impending Crypt closure won’t leave Pike/Pine without a dedicated sex shop. Earlier this year, Castle Megastore made the move from its expansive Broadway location to a tighter fit beneath the Wildrose. Meanwhile, Doghouse Leathers got bigger on E Pike. UPDATE: While it operates in a different spectrum of sex, Babeland’s 20 years of business should also be noted here, of course.
Many will point at The Crypt’s departure as another sign in the realm of retail that Capitol Hill is fucked. With the exit of longtimers like Edge of the Circle and the incoming of big new players, there is plenty of opportunities for the little guy or gal to get screwed. But in the case of The Crypt, at least, a look behind the counter and the reality of a chain company like Crypto Technology reveals that size isn’t all that matters.