San Francisco’s Good Vibrations acquires Capitol Hill-created Babeland

Born 24 years ago on E Pike when sex toys for women were still entrepreneurial concepts, iconic Capitol Hill retailer Babeland is joining a larger family of sensual positivity.

Bay Area-based Good Vibrations has announced it is acquiring the Capitol Hill-headquartered chain of three stores and the company’s online assets:

 In a merging of two of the most iconic sex toy retailers, Good Vibrations, one of the first shops to create a friendly and welcoming environment catering to women and founded 40 years ago, has entered into an agreement to acquire Babeland, co-founded by Claire Cavanah and Rachel Venning 25 years ago as an affirming, feminist, lifestyle brand. Cavanah and Venning are ready to say goodbye and move on to other pursuits after a momentous run of helping countless customers discover new pleasures and greater enjoyment in their sex lives.

Born Toys in Babeland just down the street from its current location at 707 E Pike, the first Babeland shop celebrated the business’s 20th anniversary in 2013.

“Capitol Hill in 1993 was the hub of emerging Seattle culture,” co-founder Rachel Venning told CHS at the time. “The neighborhood was packed with gay people, musicians artists, and creative people of all stripes. It was a great place to start a business that was based on a new concept: sex toys for women.”

Good Vibrations operates nine stores in five cities and will expand to include the Babeland shops including Capitol Hill’s flagship store and two Babeland stores in New York City.

“It’s been a joy and an adventure to start and grow Babeland,” Venning said in the announcement of the deal. “I have enormous gratitude for all the customers, staff, and community that have been part of this. I’m ready for a new adventure. Having Good Vibrations take over makes it easier to let go because we share so many of the same feminist values.”

According to the announcement, the Babeland brand will live on after the acquisition.

 

Ollie Quinn bringing Canadian eyewear fashion to the Pike/Pine ‘neighbourhood’

Coming soon: Ollie Quinn (Image: CHS)

Some 60,000 eyeballs — 30,000 attendees with approximately two eyeballs per person — will roll through E Pike for the 2017 Capitol Hill Block Party this July. There will be a bit of side-eye — and plenty of near and farsightedness.

Ollie Quinn, the Canadian-born provider of eyewear fashion, will join the increasingly crowded field of shops hoping to serve those many, many eyes with its new Capitol Hill boutique planned to open by the end of this month in a long-empty retail space with a clear view of the Block Party’s main stage at Pike and Broadway.

“We want it to be a space that people feel drawn to and are comfortable lingering in, which is why we have a community working space built within where community members can come to study, create or chat,” a company spokesperson tells CHS. Continue reading

Warby Parker latest big brand with plans to join Pike/Pine

(Image: Warby Parker Fremont)

A burst of block-long, preservation incentive-boosted apartment buildings has already created hundreds of new — expensive — homes along Pike/Pine below Broadway. The developments are also reshaping the commercial mix for the neighborhood with big name brands and new-era retail showcases.

The next big name to join E Pine, CHS has learned, will be fashion eyewear retailer Warby Parker on a stretch of street that is meshing Capitol Hill development with downtown demographics.

While the company has not yet responded to CHS requests for information about the planned store in the eight-story Excelsior building at Melrose and Pine, permits show plans for a $388,000 buildout of a new eyeglass shop, the third Warby Parker store in Seattle. Continue reading

RIP, Broadway Sleep Train

Breaking news from Broadway. The chain that inspired one of the largest WTF? storms in CHS history when it arrived on Capitol Hill in 2016 is no longer. Sleep Train is gone. Welcome our new retail bedding manufacturer overlords, Mattress Firm.

Confused? Here’s the FAQ.

Homestead Seattle grows into new space in Pike/Pine, sprouts new plant shop on E Olive St

The folks behind vintage furniture and design brand Homestead Seattle have been growing all sorts of things. Their design shop is about to grow into a larger, much more prominent space. And, Sunday, the new Homestead Seattle Plant Shop will blossom on E Olive St near 23rd Ave.

“We’ve definitely seen more apartment gardening,” Ryan Tansey tells CHS about some of the trends at play behind the new shop at 2202 E Olive St. “People who are moving to the hill are less likely to have a yard to work with,” Tansey said. “And I’ve also heard from some people that because many people are having kids later, having plants around is another way to have something to nurture and grow.” Continue reading

Ultra running from Capitol Hill, Pike/Pine shop owner completes decade-long race

Morrison at Fleet Feet (Image: Kelly Knickerbocker for CHS)

Morrison at Fleet Feet (Image: Kelly Knickerbocker for CHS)

In 2006, a 27-year-old ultra runner from Seattle was poised to take first place in the notoriously grueling 100-mile-long Western States Endurance race. Garbled video footage shows Brian Morrison, now the owner of Fleet Feet Sport Seattle in Capitol Hill, struggling to stay upright in the final moments of the race. His body was shutting down.

Over the loudspeaker, an announcer says Morrison is just 50 meters from the finish line. He walks, weaving along the track with a heavy expression. He begins to run, but collapses. With help from his team, Morrison gets up, moves forward and collapses again. This happens several times before he eventually wins the race — his first-ever attempt. An amazing finish.

He didn’t know it yet, but 2006 wouldn’t mark the end of Morrison’s Western States story.

Ethan Newberry, a filmmaker and ultra runner who’s also from Seattle, documented Morrison’s 2016 return to Western States in A Decade On. The 40-minute film was released to YouTube last month and has since been around 70,000 times — striking a chord with runners and non-runners alike.

“It’s about setting a goal and working toward that goal, no matter what it is. Things get hard. Work through it and stay positive. Hard work generally leads to good results,” Morrison said.

A day after the race in 2006, Morrison learned that he’d been disqualified.

Continue reading

‘Contemporary furniture’ retailer Blu Dot opening showroom on Capitol Hill

Minimalist but friendly, Blu Dot is bringing one its few worldwide showrooms to an auto row building on Capitol Hill that has been home to furniture before.

CHS has learned that the Minneapolis-headquartered furniture, design, and lifestyle brand will open a Seattle showroom on the corner of Pine and Crawford Place in the Colman Automotive building that is currently a whir of construction activity for a seismic overhaul and tenant upgrades. The work will create the new Blu Dot store and a new restaurant project lined up to neighbor it as well as a rooftop bar. The building was the longtime home of original and vintage furniture concern Area 51.

There are currently only five Blu Dot showrooms around the world. The most recent addition opened in Chicago this winter. UPDATE: “Blu Dot currently has six stores in the U.S. and nine stores globally,” a company rep tells CHS. Continue reading

Central Co-op set for an E Madison facelift

Front Entry Elevation_132in sign Revised layoutCentral Co-op is getting a makeover, but nothing on the inside is going to change.

The building’s landlord, Madison Crossing, is working on some improvements to the exterior. Construction is expected to start within the next few weeks, and should last about five months, assuming there are no delays in permitting or construction, the co-op’s Suzanne Schultz told CHS. The building opened in 1998, and the Co-op, moved in shortly after.

Schultz said the store plans to remain open during its normal business hours throughout the construction. She said the interior layout and selection of products will not change, nor will the look of the inside of the store.

“Most of the work is not going to be happening in our store,” she said. Continue reading

With grace and toughness, Honed brings custom jewelry to Chophouse Row

IMG_2443

One of the smallest new shops on Capitol Hill also might be one of its sturdiest. Jewelry designer Claire Kinder Barrett’s newly opened Honed features works that seek balance between grace and muscle.

“I always try to design delicate pieces that are also strong enough to make it through life,” Barrett told CHS during a recent visit. Continue reading

Despite stormy economic seas, Whole Foods still set to anchor 17-story Broadway tower

The Danforth, still rising, its anchor Whole Foods, still coming to Broadway and Madison

The Danforth, still rising, its anchor Whole Foods, still coming to Broadway and Madison

As news broke this week that Whole Foods is pulling out of its plan for a new West Seattle store as part of nationwide cutbacks, CHS asked what about the company’s plans for The Danforth, the 16-story mixed-use building rising at Madison and Broadway.

A company spokesperson says plans have not changed for the Broadway store. “We are still on schedule to open our Capitol Hill store at the corner of Broadway and Madison in late 2018,” she tells CHS. Continue reading