Acquiring a dozen mid-Century Brook’s Brothers suitcases from their recently deceased owner can be a great find for a vintage shop owner. But for Billy Hutchinson, owner of No Parking on Pike, what really made that particular acquisition worthwhile was opening each suitcase to find it brimming with unopened white dress shirts. A time capsule of one mans life on the road.
“A lot of times people are buying the story more than the item,” Hutchinson said. “The stories enhance it.”
For such a small space, the 8-year-old Capitol Hill “boutique junk” shop packs in a lot of stories. And if you’re looking for some last minute gift ideas, giving a taxidermy duckling, goat skull, or Krampus playing cards could certainly spark some new ones.
Gathering oddities and collectibles has always been a passion for Hutchinson. Even before plans for a shop surfaced, he said he always had a notion that he was collecting for inventory.
“I’ve always been kind of a hoarder,” he said. “I turned a corner at some point.”
That corner appeared in 2008, when the space on E Pine became vacant and Hutchinson opened the shop, who he co-owns with his wife. Hutchison first arrived at the 11th and E Pike building eight years earlier as a resident, occupying an “illegal” unit in the building’s basement.
In case you were’t around at the time, the shop’s name will clue you in that Pike/Pine retailers have long struggled with customer parking. When asked to describe his shops inventory, Hutchinson said the items are simply a reflection of things that strike his fancy.
“It just has to pass my personal coolness test,” he said. “Within that 240 square feet, I am the arbiter of all things cool.”
Hutchison moved from Tacoma to Seattle in 1982 and has had a deep connection to Capitol Hill ever since. Twenty years ago he was stocking shelves ahead of the grand opening of the Harvard Market QFC, a company he has worked for for 35 years.
No Parking’s unusual hours (1-7 PM Wednesday-Saturday, 12-5 PM Sunday) reflect Hutchinson’s busy schedule holding down a full time job at QFC and running his own shop. Most of his days start at 4 AM, stocking QFC produce. Hutchinson gets off around noon, grabs lunch, and heads to No Parking.
The hours don’t seem to have negatively impacted the shop all that much. Hutchinson said he’s even started thinking about opening up another shop to focus on selling his ever-expanding mid-Century furniture collection.
When dealing in the odd and obscure possessions of the departed, thoughts of one’s own demise must inevitably arise. Hutchinson’s funeral plans are hardcore Capitol Hill. After he dies, Hutchinson said he has instructed friends to stuff his ashes into hole-punched Hamm’s beer cans to be dragged through the streets of his beloved neighborhood.
“I don’t no what the legality is of that … but I won’t care,” he said.
In the meantime, Hutchinson is refreshingly optimistic when it comes to the transformation happening around Capitol Hill.
“The dust still hasn’t settled,” he said. “The jury is still out with what will happen.”