No need to say sorry as fashion boutique Mishu prepares to exit Broadway

Michelle Conley is at peace with the end of her storefront after seven years on Broadway. She would like the neighborhood and her customers to be at peace with the end, too.

“It’s not just one reason. It’s all the factors that Seattle is going through,” she told CHS Tuesday morning about the coming closure of the Mishu Boutique, one of the rare independent retail shops still operating on Broadway.

Mishu will shutter its Broadway doors for good by the end of February. In the meantime, everything must go.

Conley was reluctant to talk about the closure — but not because she is ashamed of her business struggles or leaving Broadway. “I don’t want to sound bitter,” she said. Broadway, for a time, was very good to Mishu and its focus on unique, urban fashion. When it opened on Broadway next to the Vivace walk-up in 2010, Mishu was expanding from its Fremont start and the business saw a lot of fun and success, Conley said.

But, of course, life changes. The challenges of building a small business in Seattle add up. Conley said she closed her first store while she was still pregnant. Now her daughter is a toddler and Conley is ready to close the Broadway location to focus on Mishu’s online business and its warehouse and storefront in Everett.

“My daughter is two and a half and I wonder if stores are going to be some retro moment for her,” she said.

Broadway owners have been bracing for lease renewals as the opening of Capitol Hill Station has renewed commercial interest in the street. EuroPub shuttered earlier this year after its owner said he balked at a proposed 31% jump in rent. Retail challenges, though, go well beyond Broadway. In recent weeks, the Seattle location of men’s fashion chain Killion quietly cleared out after around two years of business in new construction on Harvard Ave.

Mishu customers won’t have far to go to revisit the shop. “People will follow us in Everett,” Conley said. “If they don’t come up, they’ll buy from us online. They’ll see us at festivals.”

The soon to be former Broadway shopkeeper is ready to move on.

“People come in now and say, ‘I’m so sorry,'” Conley says. “I’m like, ‘Why?’ I’m looking at the future.”

You can learn more — and keep shopping — at mishuboutique.com.


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10 thoughts on “No need to say sorry as fashion boutique Mishu prepares to exit Broadway

  1. What was the story with Killion? They had King County Sheriff notices to vacate on their door for weeks. It seemed pretty sudden and like there was more of a story there than a run-of-the-mill closure.

    • When I saw the eviction notice I checked on their social media for any clues…tbh it seems like the company hasn’t been very good at managing their finances. It also looks like they’ve closed all (?) their storefronts, and took down any mention of brick & mortar stores on their website / social media presence.

  2. Most of these small shops are afraid to say publicly that $15 coupled with secured scheduling + paid leave is killing them. Read the UW study on $15. it’s really unfortunate to see these shops close.

    • Who or what are they afraid of? Big Lower Income? Big Lower Minimum Wage? Big Republicanism?

      Alternately, it could be that retail, in general, is struggling across the board—from chains to indies—because people are less inclined to go to stores due to the easy availability of everything they’d ever want online. And that this struggle that has been a thing for over a decade now. And it’s not getting better, even if your store is awesome. Which this one is/was. Not that it was for me, but everyone there was nice and they had some nifty stuff.

      But maybe you’re right, it’s not increases in rent. Not a reduction in foot traffic due to a shift of foot traffic in the neighborhood more and more to Pike/Pine. Not a shift in tastes. Not a shift in the makeup of the people in the area. Nope. It’s purely wages paying like $3 more an hour. Because there’s literally no way to recover any increases in fixed costs in business.

    • @Marissa: Please note that the UW study is widely accepted as flawed. Cal-Berkley did a followup study that refuted the UW study. You can also read a good write up on both studies here: http://fortune.com/2017/06/27/seattle-minimum-wage-study-results-impact-15-dollar-uw/

      The gist is that the UW study only focused on 60% of the minimum wage workforce. The 40% they did not focus on were the chain restaurant employees. This was also at a time when chain stores and restaurants were required to pay more than small business, so you had a large amount of people jump from small businesses to chains, due to the higher pay. When you look at ALL of the minimum wage jobs, pay and employment actually went up. You might even say that the lower minimum wage for small businesses was actually hurting them.

      But hey, just because a study is flawed doesn’t stop a bunch of anti-livable wage lobbyists from latching onto it. It also doesn’t stop failed businesses from using it as an excuse. It CERTAINLY doesn’t stop people like yourself from quoting a study that you clearly haven’t done even simple research on.

  3. Good comments. After 55 years here, I don’t think “fashion boutiques” are really what Seattle wants. Just my two cents, I feel for the owner(s). To me, both the word “fashion” for starters, and “boutique” for a second, just don’t have a place in my world here.

  4. Another one bites the dust. I’m saddened by this news. Broadway is becoming more and more boring, no longer worth visiting. I already visit the Everett location. Maybe more businesses can move to Everett, revitalize the downtown core. No doubt the rent is far cheaper. (just my editorial)