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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

Henness

Henness

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.

CHS was unable to reach the repair shop’s owner Dennis McDonnell for comment. McDonnell’s father, Dick McDonnell, opened the vacuum shop more than 50 years ago and was a renowned boxing coach. Dick passed away last year.

Henness and Daniels have been active in Capitol Hill’s kink and leather scenes for years and only recently left their 20-year stints at the The Cuff Complex. “We’re finding ourselves a new life,” Henness said.

In the expanded space, Henness plans to start offering boots and move his off-shelf inventory out of storage and into the shop. Henness is also soliciting opinions on what items customers would like to see on the shelves. The Doghouse crew plan to take over the space in February to start knocking down walls for an April open.

To say Doghouse came from humble beginnings is an understatement. Before they were known as “pop-up” shops, Henness was selling his leather goods from a 6-foot by 7-foot bathroom inside the Cuff. In 2010 Henness moved Doghouse into its current E Pike home.

Prior to securing the vacuum repair shop, Henness wanted to move next door into Fran’s Chocolates former manufacturing space after the company left the Hill for Georgetown last year. Fran’s CEO Andrina Bigelow told CHS in 2013 the company may one day open a retail location in the space.

Meanwhile, kink and sex retail seems to be a Pike/Pine growth industry. Castle Megastore is making plans to move onto E Pike into the former tattoo parlor between the Wildrose and Bimbos.

As for the overall state of local kink and leather, Henness says the scene is strong, but he worries about the shift from meeting people in bars to meeting people online.

“There’s less focus on alcohol, which is great, but there’s still the need for face time. there’s still the need for socialization,” he said. “That’s what some of these kids are missing. They don’t have the socialization connection.”

In addition to shops like Doghouse, Henness said Seattle’s robust scene of kink and leather social clubs remain the bedrock of the community.

Cuff Changes
Over at the Doghouse’s former home, the Cuff appears to be poised for a change in ownership. According to state records, Kook Im and Mi Park have filed for a new liquor license at the Cuff address. CHS has been told that a new partnership with Cuff owner Randy Fields is being formed. Fields has not yet returned our requests for comment.

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Dod
Dod
5 years ago

That vacuum shop was great. They were a huge help to me. I brought my crappy vacuum in to get it fixed and was encouraged to trade it in for a more dependable and reliable model. Great deal of integrity. Glad I bought extra bags while I had the chance.

Maggie Nowakowska
Maggie Nowakowska
5 years ago
Reply to  Dod

I agree completely. I will miss this shop that helped us spend less money on cleaners while keeping our place tidy. Good luck to Mr. McDonnell in the future.

Joseph Singer
Joseph Singer
5 years ago

“Henness was selling his leather goods from a 6-foot by 7-foot bathroom inside the Cuff.”

Just FYI, they weren’t in a “bathroom” (do people really take baths in bars?) it was a large closet space and is currently where their food is prepared. Definitely not a “bathroom” or even a restroom.

Abram Lopez
Abram Lopez
5 years ago
Reply to  Joseph Singer

Actually Joseph, the location you are talking about was the 2nd Doghouse Leather location. The first location was in the downstairs area across from the bar where a bathroom has now been placed in the closet. I’ve worked in all three locations it’s been in.

CaphillTom
CaphillTom
5 years ago
Reply to  Joseph Singer

the upstairs location was the back bar before being turned into the closet/Doghouse space and eventually the area that houses the fryer now.

The original spot was indeed a bathroom. I can’t remember it was the men’s or women’s room when the middle area was the Cuff Kitchen right after the expansion in 1997 to the Cuff Complex. I still wonder how on earth Jeff fit so much stuff into that little tiny space.

Abram Lopez
Abram Lopez
5 years ago

Actually Joseph, the location you are talking about was the 2nd Doghouse Leather location. The first location was in the downstairs area across from the bar where a bathroom has now been placed in the closet. I’ve worked in all three locations it’s been in.

CaphillTom
CaphillTom
5 years ago

It’s great to see the business expanding! I stepped into the Crypt several days ago and was really surprised to see that their stuff is the same low quality as at Castle’s.

can’t wait to see what merchandise finds its way into the expanded space

trackback

[…] Doghouse Leathers, One of the Few Remaining Holdouts of Gay Retail Culture on Capitol Hill, Is Expanding—Yes!!! This may seem like a non-story to you (“Sex Toy Shop to Offer More Sex Toys”) but it’s bigger than that, especially in a neighborhood that’s getting less and less gay (and less and less retail-friendly, thanks to Amazon). For months, Doghouse Leathers owners have been vocal about their desire to move into the nondescript building at the corner of 13th and Pike Street, a building owned by Fran’s Chocolates that’s just past the vacuum store in the photo, but Peter Bigelow, who owns that nondescript building with Fran, told me in October that the proposal for Doghouse’s expansion there was “not as strong” as other proposals. The proposal Bigelow sounded particularly excited about was “a mini Melrose Market thing where we’d have local food and Fran’s would be one of those.” That’s all well and good, but on the other hand: Seriously!? It’s not like Capitol Hill needs another high-priced foodie place. Everything weird and cool and gay on Capitol Hill has been torn down and replaced with high-priced foodie places; the gayborhood that used to be here has largely disappeared. So this news that Doghouse is expanding after all is very happy news. […]

trackback

[…] Doghouse Leathers, One of the Few Remaining Holdouts of Gay Retail Culture on Capitol Hill, Is Expanding—Yes!!! This may seem like a non-story to you (“Sex Toy Shop to Offer More Sex Toys”) but it’s bigger than that, especially in a neighborhood that’s getting less and less gay (and less and less retail-friendly, thanks to Amazon). For months, Doghouse Leathers owners have been vocal about their desire to move into the nondescript building at the corner of 13th and Pike Street, a building owned by Fran’s Chocolates that’s just past the vacuum store in the photo, but Peter Bigelow, who owns that nondescript building with Fran, told me in October that the proposal for Doghouse’s expansion there was “not as strong” as other proposals. The proposal Bigelow sounded particularly excited about was “a mini Melrose Market thing where we’d have local food and Fran’s would be one of those.” That’s all well and good, but on the other hand: Seriously!? It’s not like Capitol Hill needs another high-priced foodie place. Everything weird and cool and gay on Capitol Hill has been torn down and replaced with high-priced foodie places; the gayborhood that used to be here has largely disappeared. So this news that Doghouse is expanding after all is very happy news. […]

bcs
bcs
5 years ago

Why is it good news that the vacuum shop is closing? Please temper your enthusiasm. It is (or has been) one of the last bastions of well-run, honest small businesses to do business in the city and it is a shame.. the owner (and his buddies and late dog) were awesome and really knew their line of work..

Mimi
Mimi
5 years ago
Reply to  bcs

Hopefully he is retiring by choice. These type of businesses (that fix things rather than encourage people to throw things away) were the first true “green” businesses.

Dod
Dod
5 years ago
Reply to  Mimi

When I brought mine in for repair a few years ago the man who helped me commented on the poor quality of recently manufactured products and that, to paraphrase, machines aren’t made to be fixed anymore. Among other things, planned obsolescence is our downfall. It’s gratifying that neighborhood-based craftsmen are taking over the space through their expansion. (As an aside, I’m fascinated by the whole pup fetish culture.)

bnb
bnb
5 years ago
Reply to  bcs

My thoughts exactly as I read this. Insensitive much? Hopefully this closure is their choice. I miss our old hill; sad to see another original go…

Mike
Mike
5 years ago
Reply to  bcs

“…one of the last bastions of well-run, honest small businesses to do business in the city”.

Um- so is Doghouse Leathers.

Stewart
Stewart
5 years ago

The tone was a little off – many of us, queer included, really liked the vacuum shop folks and used it lot. And while I’m stoked about the expansion, a bastion of the neighborhood got short shrift. Also it’s worth noting that the McDonnells own the entire building – both sides and while Dad has passed, it’s great that they are keeping the retail instead of selling right away, which anyone would scoop that up.

trackback

[…] 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 […]

trackback

[…] Pike, Babeland celebrated its 20th anniversary on the Hill in 2013. Meanwhile, Doghouse Leathers is expanding on upper E […]

trackback

[…] expansion of Doghouse Leathers is complete on E Pike. CHS told you about the LGBTQ and kink friendly retailer’s plans to double its Pike/Pine presence earlier this year with more room to shop and create male-focused leather goods. Meanwhile, Dennis […]

trackback

[…] permit paperwork indicates The Cuff is back fully in the hands of the Fields family after new partners were being lined up earlier this […]

trackback

[…] 13th and E Pike, adjacent to the building Central Vacuum Service vacated this year to make way for an expansion of Doghouse Leathers. It’s in the building left vacant when Fran’s Chocolates moved its facility off Capitol […]