High Voltage shuttering on E Pike, Higher Voltager Guitar And Amp Repair opening on E Pine

Capitol Hill’s only dedicated music gear and guitar shop is closing.

The folks at E Pike’s High Voltage announced the store’s closing Friday morning. Not all is lost — Higher Voltager Guitar And Amp Repair will live on in a new home inside E Pine’s Capitol Loans:

“As a result, soon the guitars and amps at Capitol Loans will be AWESOME,” the announcement reads. There is also a “cash only” gear sale at the E Pike location today and Saturday.

Chris Lomba and his partners opened High Voltage in the summer of 2012. “If it has strings, we can fix it,” Lomba told CHS. In 2014, we talked to High Voltage about the challenges of keeping a store catering to rockers and musicians open as Pike/Pine’s entertainment economy shifted toward food and drink. With three years left on its lease, the shop was diversifying its offerings adding a workshop area for Tanner Brewer to work on guitars and amps while Lomba and Pam Stermin worked to build community around the business by bringing in bands for live music events.

But last spring, a “for lease” sign went up as the partners began looking for somebody to take the space off their hands. Despite the massive presence of Capitol Hill Block Party right outside its front door and Neumos across the street, High Voltage has now decided to shut the shop and focus the business on the more successful repair side of things.

Lomba tells CHS he is excited to move forward with Brewer on the repair venture at Capitol Loans and that the exit from E Pike will be made more smooth for the original partnership thanks to a new tenant picking up their lease. 910 E Pike doesn’t seem likely to rock in the future, however. The next business to call the shop home will be an upscale clothing retailer.

Chromeo... and High Voltage (Image: Jim Bennett/CHBP with permission to CHS)

Chromeo… and High Voltage (Image: Jim Bennett/CHBP with permission to CHS)

Revolution Wine shop planning to uncork on E Pike in 2016

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 6.59.18 AMMark Brown is taking a different approach to wine shops with his new store planned to open on E Pike, Revolution Wine.

“I think nobody’s really nailed the wine store right,” he said. “It’s an anti-wine store, wine store.”

Brown and his wife are striving for a different sort of atmosphere than a typical wine shop. He said they’re looking at more of a coffee shop vibe, where people will want to come and hang out.

“We’re really trying to create a really cool wine experience that we would want to go to ourselves,” he said.

Revolution will replace The Feed Bag pet store in the Pike at Belmont building as Angela Pfeil’s pet supply business goes mobile after 21 years of business on the Hill. “We’re not going anywhere, we’re going everywhere,” Pfeil told CHS. “I’m changing the business to fit the needs of the community.” Continue reading

More fashion retail in Pike/Pine as ‘sophisticated’ Killion moves in next to Bill’s

(Images: Killion)

Bill’s Off Broadway is back with the same cheap beer after a two-year timeout but the neighbors have changed. Menswear fashion boutique Killion — with stores also in NYC’s Orchard Estate and in Melrose in LA — has opened on Harvard Ave in the new Cue building where Bill’s overhauled new home holds down the corner at Pine.

(Image: Killion)

(Image: Killion)

The upscale-ish retailer is described as “offering a sophisticated selection of essential garments at highly desirable price-points” in this Tiger Beat-style heavy-breather on the Jonas bros going shopping in LA. We didn’t find out much more on the store’s “About Us” page:

Killion is a modern menswear line offering a sophisticated selection of essential garments at highly desirable price-points. The customer is our strongest consideration in establishing a collection with a deep appreciation for quality, refined fits, and timeless yet progressive design.
At Killion, we neglect the traditional wholesale-to-retail model essentially by cutting out the middle-men to provide premium quality products at a fair cost directly to the end-consumer. This simply means that there won’t be any added mark-ups in our prices allowing you to purchase high-end value without overpaying.

“Our products will never be mass-produced or distributed to retailers and items will never be restocked once they are sold out, nor will it go on sale,” the retailer promises.

We’re hoping to make contact with the seemingly elusive people behind the company to try to find out more about Killion’s founders and plans.

The sparsely decorated store is open for business on Harvard but there’s not any signage out front. Prices run from the high $20s to $30s for shirts with pants in the $50 and up. Judging by the number of items listed as “sold out” online, it appears that the uncertainty of inventory is part of the fun.

Another space neighboring Bill’s is also lined up for a new tenant as the longtime auto repair business that also called the corner home before redevelopment will not be returning to Harvard and Pine.

Killion’s debut follows the opening of “technical luxury” clothier Kit and Ace on E Pike earlier this summer. Buoyed by the arrival of Totokaelo on 10th Ave in 2012, luxury and upper-scale clothing retail has joined vintage and thrifting as a growing component of Pike/Pine retail. “Hippie-chic” boutique Haute Hibou made the move from Ballard into the neighborhood this summer while men’s footwear and sneaker boutique Likelihood opened in the spring.

Meanwhile, CHS reported last week on the impending closure of longtime purveyor of Pike/Pine kink, The Crypt.

You can learn more at killionest.com.

(Image: Killion)

(Image: Killion)

Pike/Pine kink shop The Crypt gets the boot

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:

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 9.23.19 AM

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.

Not all Capitol Hill art galleries are extinct: Dendroica opens on E Olive Way

11709674_836231833121732_370723725343431239_nMartha Dunham is a lifelong art lover. As a child, she wanted to become an artist but her parents said no. Artists didn’t make money. So she focused on school, earning advanced degrees in ecology and zoology, including a Ph.D from Brown University. Now, after building her career in the sciences, Dunham is returning to her first passion with force, opening a new gallery on Capitol Hill with her own savings.

“People are excited for me, and I’ve been told I am bold,” Dunham told CHS.

Dendroica Gallery is taking flight on E Olive Way in the same location as the former Blindfold Gallery which shuttered last December after just under three years in operation.

Dunham isn’t fazed by her predecessor’s demise and believes that she can make it work, signing a two year lease. “I got a two year lease because one year is not enough to get established. I’ve watched other galleries come and ago, so I know it takes more than a year to build up a clientele,” she said.

"Martha Dunham, Forge A Bridge For Peace, 2009, Bronze, w 48 x l 96 x h 31 inches" (Image: local-artists.org)

“Martha Dunham, Forge A Bridge For Peace, 2009, Bronze, w 48 x l 96 x h 31 inches” (Image: local-artists.org)

There were several other businesses interested in the space, including a bike shop, according to Dunham. She says the building owners were “very particular” about who they would rent to and believes they favored her gallery because it would be “low wear and tear” on the building. Meanwhile, E Olive Way’s food and drink growth continues. Dunham’s new neighbor, Andrew Friedman has created a new bar and coffee shop next door. Good Citizen opened for private events earlier this year but hasn’t officially opened for business.

Dunham is also a bit of a maverick. “I’ve been known to place artwork in museums and galleries where I shouldn’t,” she told City Arts recently.

Dunham said her gallery’s main mission will be to show art that can best be appreciated in person rather than digitally. This will include “sculpture, cartoons, collage art, projection art, paintings, and two-dimensional paintings.”

The gallery’s grand opening will be Thursday August 13th from 5-8 PM as part of the August Capitol Hill Art Walk.

You can learn more at dendroicagallery.com.

Central Co-op teams up to give shoppers AmazonFresh alternative

Downside: No samples :( (Image: Central Co-op)

Downside: No samples :( (Image: Central Co-op)

On Capitol Hill where Amazon code bros have “ruined our gayborhood,” the local co-operative grocery store will now give busy shoppers an alternative to the Seattle-based e-commerce giant’s popular AmazonFresh service.

“We are excited to be partnering with Instacart to offer delivery service to the Seattle area,” manager Wesley Barga of Central Co-op said in a press release from the app-driven shopping service. “We chose Instacart as a partner because its system is really user-friendly, and the company has a great team of people. We are thrilled that we can now make our unique product offering available to even more people every day.”

The service includes one-hour delivery from the Capitol Hill co-op to most of Seattle. Instacart costs $99 per year or non-member customers can pay $5.99 per order for one hour delivery (for orders of more than $35), or $3.99 for two hour delivery. Jeff Bezos charges shoppers $299 a year to use his grocery delivery service.

But before you kick Seattle’s favorite libertarian titan of industry to the curb, consider the Instacart “shopper.” Continue reading

Last of the Hill area collectives, Best Buds has one year to sort out new medical pot rules

With the tussle over who will become the first I-502 marijuana retailer to open on Capitol Hill continuing on 15th Ave E, the area’s last of the old school medical marijuana collectives Best Buds is trying to raise funds to stay in business at 23rd and Madison.

Friday, a roster of new laws regulating medial marijuana went into effect in Washington including the official new name for the state liquor board:

For medical pot, the big change doesn’t happen until July 1st, 2016 when the medical system is rolled into the new retail system and collectives and co-ops are shuttered.

While other groups have closed their doors on Capitol Hill, Best Buds continues to operate in its E Madison space. And owner Jiovani McKelvy is hoping Best Buds’ buds will step up to help “save our store”5165215_1435962542.991

Please support a gay-owned local business get back on its feet! A year ago, Ian Vogue opened Best Buds, an MMJ Dispensary in Seattle, Washington. His partner and two of his friends run this quaint, LGBT friendly shop of treasures and treats every day where each patient is consindered a Bud! Their small business unfortunately fell victim of two separate robberies and has had to make major cutbacks in addition to getting a loan in order to continue providing much needed medicine to their valued patients. Best Buds is now turning to the community. Even a dollar helps! Thank you for taking the time to read this and please share with your friends!

We’ve asked Best Buds for more information about the plans for the operation going forward but haven’t yet heard back.

In February, US Marshals assisted Seattle Police in nailing the suspect in an armed robbery at Best Buds that netted more than $10,000 in pot. We’ll have more information about that case soon.

With the number of I-502 permits remaining constricted, the business competition between two marijuana entrepreneurs vying to open at 15th and Republican took a surreal turn earlier this month with the opening of a “family arcade” on the corner. Last we checked, the arcade remained open as the project looks to obtain the necessary permits to make a new space for longtime 15th Ave E cobbler Ray Angel.

The (relatively) giant retailer coming to E Pike will be a… grocery store

As much as the return of the Capitol Hill Block Party has some remembering the “good old” days of Pike/Pine circa 1997, the changes underway on E Pike may eventually leave you pining for the CHBP days of yore — or, at least, remembering a day when there weren’t all those pesky large grocery stores on every block.

CHS reported this spring about the mysterious, relatively huge, 10,000 square-foot retailer making plans to join a new mixed-use development under construction on E Pike:

According to permits, the project’s plans for multiple retail units along the street have been pushed aside in favor of one combined “retail store” in the project. At just over 10,000 square feet, the store would be about half the size of Elliott Bay Book Company, for example, but twice the size of the still-empty OfficeMax that shuttered on Broadway earlier this year.

The developer wasn’t talking.

But CHS has learned that the project is being lined up as a grocery store involving an unknown company with plans to join what will be a wave of new market offerings joining the area in coming years. By 2017, a Whole Foods Market is destined to rise at Broadway and Madison as part of a 16-story apartment development. And developers say a “Portland-based grocer” is in talks to become the anchor retail tenant in the development surrounding Capitol Hill Station.

We’re not sure what that leaves as far as grocer possibilities to join E Pike where hundreds of new apartments will soon join the market in the blocks between Broadway and Summit. Maybe Samuel Pitts is getting back into the business.

UPDATE 7/24/2015 10:00 AM: Uh oh. In a letter dated July 20th, DPD says the plan for the mystery project to combine what was planned as multiple storefronts on E Pike doesn’t jibe with zoning. The developers have the opportunity to reply to the correction notice.Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 10.10.44 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 10.10.55 AM

Vino Verite, vintage 2008 Capitol Hill wine shop, moving to Columbia City

Dave Egan, right, and Tom "Haj" Hajduk in a vintage photo (Image: CHS)

Dave Egan, right, and Tom “Haj” Hajduk in a vintage photo (Image: CHS)

It’s not often CHS gets scooped by Columbia City Source:

In an announcement on Facebook today, Capitol Hill wine shop Vino Verite confirmed that it is in fact moving to Columbia City. Further discussion on the post clarified/suggests that Baol African imports is closing (they’ve had “clearance” signs up for a few weeks now), Andaluz is moving next door to Baol’s spot (not yet confirmed by Andaluz), and Verite is moving in to the Andaluz space.

But Dave Egan and Tom “Haj” Hajduk say it’s true. Some of the most prolific users of the CHS Calendar… ever! are moving their wine shop from the Boylston Ave E shop where it opened in fall 2008 a few stops south on the light rail line.

In the end, the business partners say their shop just off E Olive Way just didn’t get enough walk-in customers:

We tried a number of changes but the walk-in traffic has not achieved a level that supports the business enough. Meanwhile, outside sales to non-profit and business accounts have increased, making our business successful in ways that allows us to move forward.

You can read a more complete explanation and what comes next from the Vino Verite guys here. The partners haven’t ruled out an eventual return to Capitol Hill. In the meantime, they last day of business on Boylston will be July 25th — there are a few more Thursday night tastings for you to stop by and say goodbye (for now?).

The planned shuttering leaves 15th Ave E’s EVS and its extended, one-of-a-kind partnership as the only dedicated wine shop on Capitol Hill in a neighborhood currently focused an entirely different kind of intoxication.

Capitol Hill Family Arcade — and a new home for Angel’s Shoe Repair — latest twists in quest to open first Capitol Hill pot shop

The next chapter in the Game of Thrones-like saga playing out around competing I-502 marijuana retailers on Capitol Hill’s 15th Ave E involves a possible cutthroat business maneuver mixed with compassion for a longtime neighborhood shopkeeper.

Uncle Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg has confirmed to CHS that the video games he is moving into the former home of the Capitol Hill Animal Clinic at 15th and Republican are going to be put to good use — starting now.

The Capitol Hill Family Arcade will open Monday night, Eisenberg said, if all goes to plan as carpenters have split the former vet clinic in twain to make way for the arcade. Eisenberg said he is making room in the building for Angel’s Shoe Repair to make the move from across the street.

“When I went to the 15th Avenue merchant meeting,” Eisenberg tells CHS, “I said I wanted to be a good neighbor. I followed the trials and tribulations at Angel’s. I have the extra space.”

Cobbler Ray Angel should be open in his new space by the end of the week, Eisenberg said.

The moves come as Eisenberg is preparing the building to eventually be home to his second I-502 marijuana retailing operation. The Uncle Ike’s entrepreneur paid $1.5 million for the property earlier this year as another I-502 permit holder was gearing up to open in the former vet clinic. Uncle Ike’s is a CHS advertiser.

The resulting cascade of activity now has Samuel Burke and his Tok shop working to open in the longtime home of Angel’s while Ray Angel was turning to the community to raise money to fund a possible move after losing his longtime month-to-month lease.

Angel will now have a new lease on business life with a space inside Eisenberg’s building that is designed to remain should the address eventually be permitted next year when new legislation goes into effect allowing the state to hand out more I-502 permits. But the appearance of an arcade could complicate the permitting process for Tok as it pushes to open this summer.

“It’s curious that a pot shop owner is trying to disallow other pot shops from opening in this  manner,” Tok representative Ben Livingston tells CHS. Livingston also expressed his doubts about whether it is legal for an arcade to operate in the building. We are reaching out to DPD to ask about permitted uses at the address.

Eisenberg says his motives are simple.

“I had some games sitting around and they were taking up space,” Eisenberg said. “It’s an easy way to activate the space.”

Meanwhile, the City Council passed a measure Monday that would close many, if not all, of the city’s medical marijuana shops that opened after I-502 was passed in 2013. Businesses able to show that they opened before January 2013 will be able to continue operations, pending their adherence to new enforcement rules.

UPDATE 7/14/2015 11:50 AM: If you had any doubts, the arcade *must* be real — it has a Facebook page:

UPDATE 7/15/2015 8:40 AM: A complaint has been filed with DPD for the building. Eisenberg says he has been ordered to stop work so construction of the Angel’s Shoe Repair component of the building must be put on hold pending permits. “It shouldn’t take too long, but it will mean Angel won’t be able to make a smooth transition across the street and he’ll probably be down for a little while,” Eisenberg said.

We’ve asked DPD for details of the complaint.

UPDATEx2: The complaint is pretty straightforward — but goes beyond the cobbler portion of the project: “Electrical and construction work without permits to create video arcade in former vet clinic space.”

“Whatever business that goes in there will need to get a change of use permit to operate as something other than a vet clinic,” a DPD spokesperson said.

In the meantime, Eisenberg says the arcade remains open.