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tōk, Capitol Hill’s first pot shop, to open in longtime home of Angel’s Shoe Repair — UPDATE

IMG_4970When his target location for a recreational pot store on 15th Ave E was snatched up in an 11th hour deal earlier this year, Samuel Burke scrambled in search of a place to open Capitol Hill’s first I-502 shop. He may have found it across Republican at Angel’s Shoe Repair.

If all goes according to plan, Burke tells CHS he will open tōk by the end of June in the space that Ray Angel has occupied since 1980. Customers may also find a familiar face behind the pot shop’s counter: Burke says he wants to sign on Angel to work in his shop.

“I’m always looking for a win-win situation,” Burke told CHS.

Angel, a third generation cobbler, declined to comment on the future of his shop or his involvement with tōk. The family shoe repair business first opened in 1912 and has been on Capitol Hill for nearly 70 years. Joel Ostroff, who manages the property for Stanley Real Estate on behalf of the real estate investors who own the building, also declined to comment.

State Totals via the WSLCB’s Marijuana Dashboard

Burke told CHS on Thursday that he was prepared to sign a lease that day with the 1463 E Republican property owner. The state liquor board has already conditionally approved the new location, which Burke hopes could open as early as next month after he submits a copy of his lease and security plans to state regulators. However, Burke has reason to be cautious.

Earlier this year, the I-502 lottery winner was well on his way to opening a pot shop inside the now-shuttered Capitol Hill Veterinary Clinic when Uncle Ike’s owner and CHS advertiser Ian Eisenberg bought the property in a $1.5 million deal. Burke had hoped Eisenberg would still extend him a lease, but Eisenberg later told CHS he would remodel the space in hopes of finding another I-502 permit holder to partner with.

By that time, the 67-year-old investment manager said he already had his heart set on Capitol Hill and the neighborhood’s creative energy. “Once I got involved in Capitol Hill, it became apparent to me… this is where we should locate,” he said.

The opportunity remains lucrative. Though a price plunge has slowed month over month growth to around 6%, Uncle Ike’s sales have continued to climb to just short of $40,000 per day. The sizable tax on the sales, the expense and difficulty of securing a permit, and the enormous expense of required elements like robust security eat away much of the profit margin.


The Capitol Hill Veterinary Clinic building has no property uses within a 1,000 foot buffer that would prohibit an I-502 shop.

Burke’s plans for a 15th Ave shop comes amid concerns about the intense focuse the area has received from I-502 permit holders. The clustering of recreational marijuana projects in Central Seattle is an outgrowth of the overlaying restrictions on store locations based on state and city rules including the required 1,000-foot buffer from schools, parks, or community centers.

Next door to Angel’s, Ed Zhang — the official postmaster and business owner of the US Postal Service outlet — confirmed that though he still has two years left on his lease, he has been notified by the building’s ownership that he will face a doubling of rents.

Meanwhile, construction is moving forward near Uncle Ike’s on another I-502 retailer. CHS reported in October that an I-502 lottery winner for a license to operate in the Central District has purchased a property being used as a mosque. Ponder owner John Branch recently joined Mayor Ed Murray to announce new licensing requirements for recreational and medical shop owners.

UPDATE 6:35 PM: A reader sent CHS this picture of an eviction notice posted at Angel’s Friday —20150529_182139

UPDATE 6/1/2015 10:17 AM: CHS is reaching out to the involved parties to give everybody an opportunity to provide information from their side of the situation — without resorting to sniping in the CHS comments. Arlana Angel, Ray’s daughter who has been representing the business, said the Capitol Hill cobbler will be taking the next two weeks to complete orders and start moving out his century-old equipment. Ideally, Arlana said Angel will find a new home for his shop in the coming weeks.

“He got bullied out of his space,” she said. “It wouldn’t be easy for anyone, let alone someone who’s 67-years-old.”

Arlana said “a longtime customer and family friend” has created a donation page for supporting her dad’s move. $1,005 had been raised as of Monday morning.

We have not been able to reach Burke to clarify consultant Ben Livingston’s role at this point.

UPDATE 6/2/2015 3:20 PM: Livingston tells CHS he is working as Burke’s broker in acquiring a location for the business and Burke has confirmed he represents tōk.

Livingston, who is also a writer on cannabis issues, tells CHS “there’s a sensitivity in the neighborhood to displacing tenants.”

“It’s the same reason we didn’t go after the Coastal Kitchen, nobody is going to replace it,” Livingston said.

Livingston said Burke offered Ray Angel “a part-time job” with a five-year contract and that Angel was “pretty stoked about the job.” Burke also offered Angel a $95,000 “goodwill payment,” Livingston said.

“The only goal was to make him happy and not complain to the media,” Livingston said. UPDATE 6/3/2015 8:15 AM: Livingston provided a correction clarifying the offer he says was offered to Angel —

Mr. Burke offered a lump sum payment of $20,000 and five years of half-time employment at $15/hr ($15k per year times five years minimum guaranteed employment).

Livingston said there was an informal agreement between the men but that changed when lawyers got involved. According to Livingston, Angel wanted a guarantee of payment even if tōk never opened.

Livingston said Burke will take possession of the retail space starting July 1st.

UPDATE 6/3/2015 5:00 PM: The lawyer representing Ray Angel tells CHS she refutes Livingston’s account of the negotiations. “It would have been nice if there were a $20,000 lump sum payment and/or a five-year guaranteed employment,” Cecilia Cordova of Pacific Alliance Law said. “The fact is, either one of those would have been a good deal, but neither was offered.”

“My understanding is different from what Mr. Livingston is purporting the terms of the agreement to be,” Cordova said.


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44 thoughts on “tōk, Capitol Hill’s first pot shop, to open in longtime home of Angel’s Shoe Repair — UPDATE

  1. Ugh, this makes me sad – I hope Angel can find another [affordable] space on the Hill. He’s been fixing my shoes for years and he’s always done great work.

    I guess this is one social price we pay for hyper-regulating the location pot shops – highly targeted rent gouging and displacement. Hoping for the best for Angel.

  2. We don’t know for sure what is happening at this location, since 3 of the principals involved (Ray Angel, Samuel Burke, and the property manager) are “refusing to comment.” But the next-door neighbor, Ed Zhang, is on record saying that his rent is doubling, so it’s very likely this is the case with Angel’s, and that this would effectively evict this long-term Capitol Hill business. I’m speculating, but my guess is that the building owner realized that he could probably rent to a pot shop, and he is taking advantage of that to jack up the rent. Hard-core, cold capitalism in action!

    If my speculation is accurate, it seems kind of hypocritical to be offering Ray Angel a job at the new pot shop.

    • I don’t think it is hypocritical at all. He is simply trying lessen the blow to Ray. Ray Angel is a super great guy and I hope that whatever path is ahead for him is a happy one.

      • It’s like Burke is offering Ray a job after he has stabbed him in the back. Yes, it’s the owner of the building and his property manager who are most responsible for what is happening, but Burke is complicit in this sad tale.

    • ‘but my guess is that the building owner realized that he could probably rent to a pot shop, and he is taking advantage of that to jack up the rent. Hard-core, cold capitalism in action!’


      I wouldn’t accuse a building owner of ‘cold capitalism in action’ for raising rent on their investment. Especially if it’s the case that the business owner has been an owner for some time and a member of the community.

      You may want to consider the factors that precluded the owner raising the rents such as Amazon and out of state publicly traded developers acquiring and developing apartment complexes.

      • ‘but my guess is that the building owner realized that he could probably rent to a pot shop, and he is taking advantage of that to jack up the rent. Hard-core, cold capitalism in action!’

        That’s exactly what’s happening! Business is business but it’s sad that it has to effect long standing small business in the neighborhood.

        People should stop in and wish Ray well.

  3. Super sad. I go to Angels a lot, and to Postal Plus!

    One pot shop is a fine addition to the neighborhood, but a cluster of pot shops is not a benefit. I’ll be writing my legislators about this, because it’s clear the regulations are having negative impacts on local neighborhoods. We need to allow shops to spread out more. Clustering helps no one.

    • We have clusters of coffee shops and bars and restaurants and hair salons. What’s wrong with 2 pot shops?

      • This argument is pretty disingenuous. Thousands of people go and get coffee every day at rush times, or work from coffee shops for hours. There need to be a bunch to meet capacity – same with restaurants and bars.

        I certainly don’t have anything against a weed shop, but it’s not the kind of place people go every day at the same time on the way to work or to relax with friends. It’s a specialty store, like a hardware or toy store, and having two across the street from each other seems pointless. If there were only two button stores on Capitol Hill would you want them adjacent? No, it’s a bad way to use space, if you ask me anyway.

      • ‘There need to be a bunch to meet capacity’

        Not all coffee shops, bars, and restaurants fill up their capacity.

        ‘It’s a specialty store, like a hardware or toy store.’

        I wouldn’t compare a pot shop to a specialty store like a toy store or a hardware store. I’d compare it to maybe a liquor store? Can’t vouch for everyone but we go to a liquor store more times than we go to a toy store or hardware store.

        Having two pot stores across the street from each does a lot more than what you suggest. For example:

        1) competition keeps prices honest

        2) not all pot shops carry the exact same products. 2 stores will insure variety and choices

        3) you may have a preference between the two shops and become a regular of one of them. IE., I don’t like “Coffee shop A.” I am glad “Coffee Shop B” is close by so I have a choice. This is one way post shops differ from liquor stores, they all don’t look the same.

      • You keep making this argument, but pot shops are not comparable to cafes. They are comparable to private liquor stores.

        This small shift from Angel’s to the the hideously named “tok” is an example of everything that is wrong with Capitol Hill now.

    • Yeah, the 1000 foot rule is pretty dumb IMO. Not allowing pot shops within a block of a school might be reasonable. But these maps that force pot shops to cluster in a tiny fraction of the available real estate don’t make any sense.

    • I wouldn’t consider 2 pot shops to be a cluster.

      Would you write ‘your’ legislators about the cluster of coffee shops, bars, and restaurants? As you mention, ‘clustering helps no one.’

      • Yeah, pot stores aren’t really hang out spots like coffee shops and restaurants.

        And I would write ‘my’ legislations to loosen restrictions so that pot shops could spread out more, which I think would be a boon to them as well as a better for neighborhoods. As a neighborhood resident I think it would be better to have a pot shop on 15th, one on Broadway, one or two around Pike Pine, maybe one on Olive toward downtown, one on Summit, etc. Why is that not a win for everyone?

      • ‘Yeah, pot stores aren’t really hang out spots like coffee shops and restaurants.’

        Does it matter if they are hang out spots or not? There are two grocery stores (Safeway & QFC) within 2 blocks from each other and they aren’t really hang out spots either.

        I agree, it would be nice to have pot shops in other locations on the hill and that’s where the 1000ft rule becomes a burden.

  4. Looking forward the first Capitol Hill pot shop. It has been a long time coming. For a while it has been odd not to have cannabis retail in Seattle’s most dense neighborhood and center of Seattle’s counterculture.

    It’s also odd using the term counterculture since the hill has changed so much.

    • One of the most interesting things about living near Ike’s is seeing the non-stop variety of clientele. People sure do like weed. Everyone from UW students to Capitol Hillsters to tourists and CD hip-hoppers and senior citizens and even sharp-dressed business ladies from downtown who drive by after work in their skirts and high heels clacking across 23rd with buds in their expensive handbags.

      And hippies.

  5. This is interesting. I had heard that Ray Angel was being threatened by the property manager/owner with triple his rent if he didn’t comply with Sam Burke taking over his space. Essentially he is being bullied out of there. Would doubt if we’ll see his smiling face at the pot shop but stranger things have happened.

  6. I think it’s super-condescending to offer a man who has been running a multigenerational family business for 30 years a job at the pot shop. He’s a business owner. The gesture is patronizing to Angel and the neighborhood. It’s disrespectful to Angel, as well.

  7. To take over Angel’s shop and then paint it as a “win win” by offering Angel a “job” in the pot shop is disingenuous and cruel. Angel’s shop is a family business doing a useful thing that has been around for over 100 years. Now he has been given less than a month to vacate a spot that has been his family’s shop for generations. The fact is, he is being bullied out of the space, plain and simple.

    Just because it’s a pot shop doesn’t make it cool, and it doesn’t make it OK. But in this day and age might makes right, apparently.

    Thanks, Stanley Real Estate! Yes you have the right to make a buck. Hope you are having a fun and happy life ruining someone’s livelihood!

  8. Ray has a gofundme. This is another horrible neighborhood change. I lost my vet and now shoe repair. i voted for legalization, but not for pot shops being centralized and clustered. Ugh.

    • So you voted for a law knowing that allows pot retailers that can only exist in very few locations and didn’t anticipate them being clustered in those locations?

    • Thanks for the info Lisa — here’s the link again


      However, Raymond Angel and Angel’s Shoe Repair is under fire. A victim of the regulations of Washington State’s new I-502 legislation, Angel’s shop is in a VERY small area that appears meets current requirements for retail cannabis outlets. He received a notice to vacate his business location on May 29th, 2015 to make way for a pot shop. This is Ray’s main income. He doesn’t have the money even to move his equipment into storage while he tries to get another space that he can afford. Please help with funds for Ray to move/store his equipment, get a new lease somewhere else, and help support Ray in the mean time. All donations are very much appreciated by Ray and all that love him. Thank you!

  9. Ray refused to sign a lease renewal because his “supporters” don’t support his cobbler business enough to pay him anything but poverty wages and he wasn’t certain how much longer he could bear it. Ray needs a retirement income that cobbling shoes simply did not provide. The $20k neighbors are raising is wonderful — more than that shop earns him — but that is far less than my client offered Ray for moving from his month-to-month tenancy to a subsidized space on Broadway or Union. And $20k is way, way less than Ray’s daughter’s attorneys are trying to strong-arm from my client. And it’s not hypocritical to offer him a pot shop job if that’s what he wants.

    A few self-interested parties are stirring this proverbial pot hoping to control that lucrative cannabis corner. Consider for a moment that your efforts might help screw Ray out of a real retirement.

      • Which specific facts I presented are untrue? My client, Ray and Ray’s daughter shook on a $95,000 deal, then Ray’s daughter got a group of attorneys at Two Union Square involved who are trying to strong-arm my client for $400,000+. And they want this money whether or not my client opens his shop. And while Ray’s daughter’s attorneys have been negotiating with my client, Ray’s daughter has been working to generate negative press about the whole situation, because she “knows the media.” Keep in mind that Ray REFUSED to sign a multi-year lease renewal the landlord ASKED him to sign, so he has no bargaining power other than using the media to shame my client.

      • From my understanding much of what Ben Livingston is saying here is inaccurate and misleading. I urge readers to wait before rushing to conclusions. I believe if Raymond had been offered even a small amount of money up front, he would have taken it. Of course, that is my opinion only. The Angel family is a kind family and hardly the greedy lot that you have portrayed them to be above. The guy just wants to stay in business and have a good life. I understand he was negotiating in good faith before being served notice by the property management company. Unclear why he wasn’t being offered money up front, even as much as 10k, to hand over the keys…

      • Again, Repeated Anonymous Poster Who Could Be The Pot Shop Owner Across The Street, which specific facts do you challenge? That my client, Ray and Ray’s daughter shook on a $95,000 deal, that Ray’s daughter involved attorneys at Two Union Square, or that they are demanding a ridiculous payout for this lease-refusing, month-to-month tenant to go quietly.

  10. Integrity. Quality. Experience. This is what Stanley Real Estate has on their website. With the way that Joel Ostroff has been handling everything, that brings the Integrity into question. Granted, money is a huge factor for these business men. It does not seem to matter that a business that has been in Seattle for over 100 years needs to go away to make way for the more lucrative business of marijuana. I truly hope that all of the businesses up on the hill (15th) are looking forward to the new clientele who will frequent the neighborhood, not just the residents who are looking forward to being able to just walk a block or so and get their high.

    It is disappointing that those individuals involved with Ostroff/Stanley RE/Livingston/Burke have resorted to sniping, accusations about handshakes and money, extortion (Mr. Livingston seems to imply),”a group of attorneys at Two Union Square involved who are trying to strong-arm my client for $400,000+. And they want this money whether or not my client opens his shop. And while Ray’s daughter’s attorneys have been negotiating with my client, Ray’s daughter has been working to generate negative press about the whole situation, because she “knows the media.” “Keep in mind that Ray REFUSED to sign a multi-year lease renewal the landlord ASKED him to sign, so he has no bargaining power other than using the media to shame my client”. That Angels daughter has lawyers in her back pocket (so to speak) and that she is spearheading all of this. Arlana is interested in her father and his welfare. If it were the case of having hired these attorneys then she would not be pushing to hard and diligently for her father.

    Some where along the line Mr. Livingston has embellished, over dramatized and criticized hard working people. Stanley Real Estate (Piha), Ben Livingston, Joel Ostroff and Sam Burke should all be ashamed of themselves, trying to strong arm someone by saying that if they did not pay 3x the amount of rent, then they needed to leave. When did they leave the human race? Obviously money talks.

  11. Washington sate did not legalize marijuana. To legalize something you would have to remove the laws that prohibit it. Those laws were not removed. It is not legal to posses unless it’s from a state run shop. It’s not legal to grow unless you are a state run grower. It’s not even legal to pass a joint to your wife or best friend. Nope. It’s a felony. Plus the per say driving law that is not based on science and was stripped by other states with half a clue. All the uninformed in our state did was vote for creating a sub set of laws that allow a state run cartel to insult us with their price fixing and whining about taxes and competition. They already sleezed their way into getting at least 50 percent of their “unfair competition” (the pot stores that have been around for a decade) shut down by the state. It’s funny how hydroponic tomatoes that require electricity and lights and ventilation don’t cost 400 dollars an ounce.

  12. I have used the cobbler shop frequently in the past. That being said, I am dismayed that folks regularly seem to believe that landlords have a singularly unique role of providing charity to their tenants based upon whatever criteria the tenants or advocates suggest. The tenant had a monthly agreement which means just that. We don’t know his personal financial situation or that of his family. The landlord has an asset, an investment if you will, that he is free to maximize the value of. All or most readers here have jobs and I assume make economic decisions to make as much as the market will provide for their jobs, unless they choose to engage in other priorities with their time. How many of the readers would reduce their pay if their employer claimed an inability to pay them what others would for the same job?

    Also, in years past and years future, landlords have lost their shirts and properties with vacancies and inability to service debt, taxes and expenses. Nobody weeps for them in these times nor should they. Perhaps the landlord made a mistake in keeping rent at the level it was, rather than consistent raises consistent with real estate inflation in the retail space in Seattle?

    As to the postal outlet, please explain if he has a 2 year lease left, how the rent can be raised in the interim?

    • It’s one thing to raise rent a modest, reasonable amount. It’s another thing altogether to TRIPLE the rent….the latter is just plain greed.

      • Purely hypothetical: Say you’re a landlord and someone offers you four times the monthly rent your tenant pays and a ten-year lease. Would offering to let your current tenant stay month-to-month at triple the rent seem greedy?

        With implementation of I-502 and careful analysis of zoning, that property became much more valuable. With the right permit, you can sell dried flowers for several hundred dollars per ounce there, and if you work quickly to get started, you’ll be the only legal outlet for such sales in the most densely-populated neighborhood in Seattle. Shoe repair probably cannot compete, even if you raise the rates enough to pay yourself a living wage and save for retirement.

      • It’s one thing to negotiate for the potential new tenant to pay to relocate your business and guarantee you a job at the new business in exchange for you not making a fuss over losing your month-to-month, below-new-market-rate, rental arrangement. To demand $400,000 is just plain greed.

      • You can’t possibly believe that Ray would have turned down $95,000. Just because someone says this doesn’t make it true. $400,000? That’s nuts and didn’t happen. Let them offer Ray $95,000 and see how fast he packs…

      • I agree, still-anonymous commenter, that something is not true simply because someone says that it is so. However, Ben is a close friend of mine who is, in my informed opinion, extremely unlikely to be mistaken about this, so I believe that his report is accurate.

        I don’t see any claims that Ray turned down $95,000. In fact, the claim, here, is that he, along with his daughter and Ben’s client, shook on a $95,000 deal.

  13. As a longtime 15th Ave. merchant, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Mr. Burke will have a very, very difficult time making friends up here now that he’s evicted Angel.

    Mr. Burke, I can’t imagine yet what any recourse will be for the 15th Ave. community and merchants, but…we shall see.

    This was a miscalculation. Will Mr. Burke win in the long run? Maybe, but it’s going to be a tough ride.

  14. Let’s slow down in blaming the landlord. The landlord just rents the space. It’s not his job to make a moral judgment for who should/should not be there.

    That’s the community’s job…

  15. I’m not a pot shop owner, I’m not an attorney, I am not a lobbyist, I’m not a person who wants public attention. I just live in the neighborhood and care about Raymond Angel. Here’s what I suggest. Let’s see if Mr. Livingston’s client is willing to put his money where Mr. Livingston’s mouth is. Have the client issue a cashier’s check for $95,000 out to Raymond Angel. Call all the news outlets and get them to come to Ray’s shop. Let the community know and we’ll be there. Offer him the cashier’s check in exchange for the keys to his shop. That would be more than enough for him to be able to move to a new space with his equipment and retrofit and such. The neighbors will cheer! Mr. Livingston’s client will get a huge dose of positive press and this can all be over and done with. This client can get the space he wants, good press, and the appreciation of the neighborhood. No need for Ray to get a job. I imagine the 15th Ave business association and other business owners will feel good with that. I’ll personally get other neighbors to get some boxes to pack up the shop and shake Mr. Livingston’s client’s hand in appreciation. We can ask folks to come in on the first day of business and buy cannabis or other products from the shop. Would the other interested folks be happy with that solution?