Music shop turned supplier to Capitol Hill DJs, Platinum Records searching for new home after 20 years on E Pike


With the sometimes relentless change underway around Pike/Pine and Broadway, you can pretty much take your pick of beloved neighborhood attributes and make an argument proving that special quality is “dying” on Capitol Hill.

We don’t know if music is “dying” but we do know that the world’s leading supplier to Capitol Hill DJs and E Pike guitar gods is having to uproot from its longtime E Pike home after 20 years. Here’s a post from owners Scott McQuain and Ali Tabatabaie reporting his Platinum Records Seattle location is on the move:

To all my Seattle peeps – after twenty years we finally lost our lease at the Seattle Platinum Records. While we look for a new space, we need to clear everything out. I’ll be here all week, so come on down and do some wheelin’ and dealin’! Store fixtures are available also, if you know anybody that’s looking. Display cases, truss, desks, everything must go. Major blowout pricing on vinyl, and now is the time to make us an offer on gear. Major Labor Day Week sale!

Kippy ready to serve back in 2012 (Image: CHS)

Kippy ready to serve back in 2012 (Image: CHS)

CHS stopped by the 915 E Pike shop in 2012 to learn more about the shop’s transformation from music shop to DJ gear and rock band outfitter:

 Located on E Pike since 1994, Platinum sells not only vinyl, but turntables, mixers, lighting — the standard accoutrement and tools needed for the men and women behind the ones and twos.

Platinum’s goal is to be a one stop shop for all things DJ, but there has been enough of a mandate from shoppers that they have now moved into areas that start to blur the line between a DJ shop and a traditional music store.

“We’re starting to get into guitars, picks, guitar strings, drum sticks, because there’s nowhere else on the Hill. We’re kind of venturing out, and honestly, it’s been a hit. We’ve been going through guitar strings like crazy,” said Platinum’s manager of ten years, Kippy.

A check of permits doesn’t reveal anything about what’s next for the E Pike space. Across the street, music lovers will still have High Voltage around — we hope! — for guitar and gearhead browsing.

The Portland Platinum continues to operate at 104 SW 2nd Ave.

We have messages out to Platinum’s ownership to learn more about what’s next. With Chop Suey up for sale, maybe some kind of music miracle pairing can be worked out.

Capitol Hill wine shop Essence shutters — UPDATE

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(Image: Essence Wine)

(Images: Essence Wine)

Retailers looking for a berth on Capitol Hill will find some open space in the 400 block of E Pine. Funky and unpredictable bottle shop Essence Wine quietly closed earlier this month.

Here’s the Facebook goodbye:

Thank you all for so many beautiful times. We are closing the shop that hosted dance, music, people, laughter, arguments, discussion, ruckus, urbanity, and you. Thank you so much for being a part, thank you so much for being a part! The beauty of the essence will happen again, in different places and in so many ways. Thank you for having carried and carrying it on

The now empty shop makes two neighboring E Pine retail spaces looking for tenants. Earlier this summer, Gamma Ray Games announced it was consolidating up the Hill in a new space combined with its Raygun Lounge.

Co-owners Zach Weissman and Winston Xu opened Essence in late 2012shaped as an artesian cave, a cave of stacked wine boxes with bottled wine atop.” The business also had a — how should we say it? — creative approach to business. Not taking things too seriously seems to be part of the lifeblood of running a Capitol Hill wine business — stop by still-standing European Vine Selections for a taste as it’s kept things running for more than 25 years on the Hill.

Essence even managed to have some good fun at the expense of local media — CHS was thoroughly punk’d by this strange episode in early 2013. At the time, Xu apologized and told us he too had been tricked by the announcement and that Weissman had “no authority” to speak for the shop. It was a strange moment for the business but, until the end, both Xu and Weissman remained with Essence, according to corporate filings.

By email, Xu declined to comment on the closure telling us things still needed to get wrapped up with the landlord.

UPDATE: Xu tells us things are wrapped up with the landlord and a new art supply store is reportedly moving in:

The reason behind our closure was complicated, but mostly because I am finding myself not able to make enough spare time to manage the shop as much as it needed to be, Zach, my partner did a wonderful job and had been the primary manager Essence over the past two years, now he is off to another great job opportunity and I am swapped with my primary job and other businesses, so we have decided to close the business.

Freeman flagship shop opens on Capitol Hill (but hopefully you don’t need a rain jacket… for a little while)

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Frank and the Freemans inside the new Loveless shop (Image: CHS)

Last Friday marked the opening for the Capitol Hill flagship shop Freeman, the formerly online-only, made-in-Seattle outerwear company best known for its primary-colored rain jackets. Located in the Loveless Building, the mostly menswear store — they now make a Lady Freeman rain jacket for women, cinched waist and all — is now officially part of the neighborhood shopping district at the end of Broadway neighboring longtimers Kobo and Joe Bar and newcomer Restaurant Marron.

It’s not the most common direction for a store to go from online to brick and mortar, but the three-person team behind Freeman is eager to get to know its customers face-to-face, which is partly why the company decided to open its first-ever shop on Capitol Hill.

“We love how people in the neighborhood are stopping by and seeing what’s going on,” Scott Freeman told CHS, who originally thought about opening in Ballard before deciding on the north end of Broadway. Continue reading

Aprie hunts trends to keep fashion selling on Broadway

aprie__DSC0252aprie__DSC0227Rayna Stackhouse contributed this report as part of the UW News Lab. She is joining CHS as our summer intern. Welcome Rayna!

Las Vegas’s hustle and heat happen to be the setting for the largest global fashion exchange called MAGIC. One weekend in August brings together more than 50,000 buyers, sellers, and designers, with $200 million worth of orders each day.

Among these buyers are Lizette Gutierre-Parker and Katrina Baker who work for the fashion boutique Aprie, on Broadway at Thomas.

Both agree that these buying trips are their favorite weekends on the job. But sometimes, things don’t always go smoothly.

“We do have very similar taste, we know what will sell here and we have a good grasp on our customers,” says Baker, “but we have been compared to an old married couple because I will like something she doesn’t… We have to stop and think, can we sell this?” Continue reading

CHS Community Post | Loft 63 – A New Contemporary Furniture & Home Decor Store On Capitol Hill – Now Open!

IMG_1313CHS Community posts are created by readers and representatives of local businesses and organizations. Anybody can post to CHS. You can view the CHS Community section here. CHS editors may also select community posts to appear on the site’s front page.

Loft 63, Capitol Hill’s new Contemporary Modern Furniture & Home Decor Store is now open!  Loft 63 focuses on smaller contemporary furniture pieces that are a perfect fit for urban loft condo’s and studio apartments.  Many of our home decor items are handmade, some locally produced right here in the Northwest!  If the item is handmade, we note on the price tag the state where the item is produced.

Located at 1205 E Pike Street (between Wall of Sound and Bluebird Ice Cream on Pike Street), the store features over 1,100 square feet of showroom space with four rooms of contemporary furniture and home decor!   On the floor we have a smaller scale functional sofa bed, many fun dining chairs, petite dining tables that are a good fit for urban spaces, a retro contemporary rocker, locally produced candles and coffee mugs, local artwork, and much more! Continue reading

Gamma Ray celebrates 5 years on Capitol Hill with changes at E Pine

The Raygun Lounge and Black Coffee Co-op, seen here from above, have DPD's full attention (Image: CHS)

The Raygun Lounge and Black Coffee Co-op, seen here from above, have DPD’s full attention (Image: CHS)

(Image: Gamma Ray Games)

(Image: Gamma Ray Games)

There is never-ending change on Capitol Hill but the past makes a stand every now and then. How you deal with the legacy can sometimes be the difference between win and fail. As Gamma Ray Games enters its fifth year of business on Capitol Hill, the retail business and its counterpart E Pine Raygun Lounge are combining forces to make the best of the cold, hard, historical reality — 501 E Pine, as far as City of Seattle rules sees it, is a building made for retail not restaurants or bars.

Gamma Ray owner Eric Logan announced the planned changes in a blog post last week:

By the end of the month the Raygun Lounge will be an all-ages space(!) with significantly expanded operating hours. Yes, we will still be serving a range of beer,cider and wine. Yes, we will be crafting an expanded menu of lite bites and snacks to serve our new daytime crowd. And yes, we will continue to host a growing range of weekly, monthly and special events.

Inside Raygun Lounge (Image: CHS)

Inside Raygun Lounge (Image: CHS)

Logan and staff will also move the Gamma Ray Shop up the Hill from its original E Pine and Crawford location. “Starting Tuesday, July 15th we’re bringing back the synchronicity of the original shop so you will no longer have to walk up and down the street and split your tab in order to get your favorite gaming supplies while you’re playing, drinking and eating with your friends,” the announcement reads.

The moves come as the businesses that took over the 501 E Pine space a few years back have learned that despite how its earlier, legendary tenant had put the building to work, any new efforts to run a bar or kitchen from the address runs afoul of zoning rules. Much loved Travelers ran what could be best described as a store and cafe from the building until its exit from Capitol Hill in 2012. But by 2013, Logan’s Raygun Lounge and gaming hall and neighboring Black Coffee Co-op drew the attention of the Department of Planning and Development as inspectors began detailing expensive changes like new exits or limitations on capacity.

CHS checked in with Black Coffee last year as the collective wrestled with the challenges of combining its social ideals with day to day operations. According to DPD documents, inspectors have been working with the co-op this year to resolve issues over capacity and elements like “cooking appliances” in the cafe’s kitchen. A shared and apparently under-resourced bathroom facility in the building will also be getting an upgrade, Logan says. While the DPD details on things like capacity, exits and appliances might seem ticky-tack, they are often the elements by which the city regulates the use of space — and changes can cost thousands of dollars to complete at a level that satisfies use requirements.

CHS has asked Black Coffee founder Scott Davis about the situation but we haven’t yet heard back about what changes the co-op will be able to tackle to either meet DPD’s requests or change how it runs things on E Pine.

In the meantime, the Gamma Ray gang is ready to celebrate five years of business.

“Capitol Hill’s tabletop gaming community will come through this transition stronger, more robust, and better served than ever before,” Logan said.

Washington’s first marijuana stores open with lines, short supply

Marchers at this year's Cannabis Freedom March across Capitol Hill (Image: CHS)

Marchers at this year’s Cannabis Freedom March across Capitol Hill (Image: CHS)

Anybody planning a road trip to be one of the first people in Washington state to purchase legal marijuana better hustle. The lines are already formed.

With 24 official state retail licenses issued — including one in Seattle — Tuesday marks the planned first day of sales at the few shops around the state ready for business and stocked with inventory:

Barring some 11th-hour business catastrophe, 10 pounds of marijuana will line these shelves Tuesday, a quantity Lathrop expects will sell out that day at $15 to $20 per gram. But until he officially receives his retail license from the state Monday, it’s only glass paraphernalia and small label plates that read “Fine Jewelry,” remnants from when the cases lived in a Sears department store.

4th Ave S’s Cannabis City and its 10 pounds of first-day-of-business pot joins 23 other stores in the first wave of Washington retailers.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 7.56.13 AMMeanwhile, the owner of Mello Times, the only retailer within walking distance of Capitol Hill to make it through the state’s license lottery with a permit opportunity secured, told CHS his 24th and Union concern won’t be operating until later this summer at the earliest as he prepares the business for the long haul. Despite a pot-friendly, dense population, the various intertwining local and state rules around retail marijuana have conspired to keep Capitol Hill proper a legal pot shop-free zone. The black market will continue to thrive, of course, and the gray market, so far, is also making a game go of it. Capitol Hill’s thousand of apartment dwellers, unless the have a forward thinking building manager, might find it difficult to overcome the renter’s pot paradox. One solution to avoid the smoke — edibles. You can buy and possess 16 ounces of solid marijuana-infused products like brownies and candy. Use it wisely.

Marijuana legalization in Washington began rolling with the passage of I-502 in 2012 legalizing the purchase and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Advocates are now moving forward to protect medical marijuana in the state and to introduce legalized homegrown pot. Meanwhile, other states are watching Washington and the only other state in the union that has so far approved the sale of retail pot — Colorado.

If you do go shopping this week, expect some disappointment here and there as shops work out issues with supply — and demand.

New York City? CEO says big investment in Rudy’s still means modest goals for Hill-headquartered barbershop empire

Rudy’s Barbershops, an E Pine-headquartered exporter of Pike/Pine cool to the nation, has a new majority owner in the shape of a New York-based venture capital and buyout specialist. But like many changes on Capitol Hill, the impact of the $9.25 million investment in the indie-minded barbershop style chain is a matter of perspective.

“This is investment in slow growth,” said company CEO Vy Le, who joined Rudy’s four years ago and who remains at the helm through the investment by Syosset, New York-based Northwood Ventures. “A lot of that money is going into existing assets. Simple things like new chairs on Pine,” Le said.

The CEO tells CHS that the purchase of majority control of Rudy’s will mean upgrades at its 15 existing shops and expansion in its existing markets. The Seattle area will see an expanded Bellevue Rudy’s this summer and a long-anticipated West Seattle shop is in the offing. In addition to expansion in existing markets like New York, Portland, and Los Angeles, Le said there will likely be one new market added to the Rudy’s hip haircut empire. The investors are reportedly readying Rudy’s for a three-fold expansion of stores “over the next several years.”

Le said the recapitalization represents yet another new stage in a company that has grown into one of the accidental empires of Alex Calderwood, David Petersen and Wade Weigel. We wrote about the early ’90s, bootstrap-style start of Rudy’s and the Ace Hotels chain late last year after the death of style icon Calderwood. Le said the plan to bring in the involvement of an investor like Northwood Ventures was in the works before Calderwood’s death as the founders’ businesses began efforts to upgrade operations, improve benefits, and shift to the new reality of operations with hundreds of employees. Continue reading

Cone and Steiner — with some help from the neighbors — figuring out what it takes to run a Capitol Hill general store

(Image: Sarah Jurado with permission to CHS)

(Image: Sarah Jurado with permission to CHS)

2014 started with an interesting experiment in neighborhood retail, food and drink — how would a 21st century general store custom-shaped for Capitol Hill fare in a world with giant supermarket chains and global online commerce giants dabbling in the grocery delivery business? Turns out, it would do pretty well.

Cone and Steiner’s all-star team of backers say the first-of-its-kind retail venture is successfully providing convenience items, fresh, local produce, giftable home goods, and lots and lots of beer to the neighborhood around 19th Ave E at E Mercer. The first six months of business has been about adjusting to what the east side of Capitol Hill wants.

“The neighborhood has played a most significant part in our product selection,” says co-owner Dani Cone. Continue reading

You’ll have to wait for Central Seattle’s only approved pot shop

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This Central District house stands at the address registered by Mello Times in its successful application to be one of the first legal marijuana stores in Seattle (Image: CHS)

If you want to be among the first to legally purchase recreational marijuana in Seattle, don’t go looking for it in the Central District (and definitely don’t go looking on Capitol Hill). Seattle’s first crop of marijuana shops are slated to open on July 8th, but the only licensed shop in central Seattle won’t be one of them.

John Branch told CHS his 24th and Union shop Mello Times may not open until August. Branch said he’s still building the business after finding out in May he would receive one of the city’s 21 retail marijuana licenses.

“People were assuming they would win (the lottery). I didn’t assume I would win,” he said. Continue reading

‘Harder, more extreme,’ The Crypt helps keep the kink in Capitol Hill

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Manager Shawn Allen Hall is ready to serve (Images: CHS)

Manager Shawn Allen Hall is ready to serve (Images: CHS)

Seattle Pride celebrates the inspiring progress our city and nation have made in furthering LGBTQ rights. It’s also a time when an already sex-charged Capitol Hill turns things up a notch. Before, during, after – The Crypt serves as one of its top purveyors of kink.

Since opening here in the 1980s, The Crypt has served as the adult’s adult store on Capitol Hill. With items to induce electric shocks and rods to be inserted in the most shocking of places, products at The Crypt can really stretch the meaning of the word “toy.”

“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. Continue reading

What kinds of companies will put Capitol Hill’s new office buildings to work?

No time for play -- office space is coming to Pike/Pine

No time for play — office space is coming to Pike/Pine

A Capitol Hill coworking space at Office Nomads (Image:  Trina Gadsden/Office Nomads via Flickr)

A Capitol Hill coworking space at Office Nomads (Image: Trina Gadsden/Office Nomads via Flickr)

Despite its nightlife boom, ask Capitol Hill business owners and developers what the neighborhood really needs and you’ll likely hear a call for more daytime activity. Amid the Hill’s latest mixed-use apartment construction wave, a few developers are making space for daytime desk jockeys in their new Capitol Hill buildings. Companies that have recently moved into the neighborhood have cited the area’s strong food and drink and entertainment assets, along with an explosion in new apartments for companies with workers increasingly drawn to walkable, commute-free living.

Capitol Hill whiz developer Liz Dunn said the unmet demand for office space in Pike/Pine prompted her to make office a key component of her her latest development, Chophouse Row.

“We’re not getting any office because the national market hasn’t caught up,” Dunn said, explaining that large, nationally-focused developers now building in the neighborhood aren’t yet focused on the area’s daytime potential. “It’s going to be folks like me and Legacy, local owners, who are going to be able to build office space.” Continue reading