Don’t be surprised if you see the Standard Goods team shuffling inventory from their 701 E Pike location to their new digs in the Dunn Motors Building, especially this week — it’s crunch time. Standard Goods’ lease is up at the end of April, and the retailer is busy moving into a new home at 501 E Pike, the former home of Baseline Fitness. The plan is to close the last two days of the month and officially open the new location on May 1st. Luckily, they’re only moving a block and a half down the street.
“[The old shop is] such a small space and we have been filling it with so much product that it’s a really tight space to walk in,” said Maxx Kautz, Standard Goods’ Capitol Hill Manager. “When we found this space that was kind of twice the size, and we knew our lease was coming up, it was like, ‘We might as well.’”
Standard Goods features apparel, candles, pins, stickers, patches, rain gear, health and beauty products, and much more, many from local Pacific Northwest makers. Owner Jeffrey Gardner launched the shop in 2015 at the location that previously housed occult bookstore Edge of the Circle for over 20 years. When Gardner heard about the availability of the Baseline Fitness space through Jill Cronauer, a frequent customer—as well as Chief Operating Officer and designated broker for Hunters Capital—the idea of moving into a location about twice the size was too good to pass up.
Hunters Capital, a leading developer on East Pike’s “Preservation Row,” sweetened the deal by accommodating the buildout: mainly tearing down a wall that separated the reception area from the gym, tearing up carpet and sanding down the floors, and building a new wall at the back, which will house Standard Goods’ offices, previously part of the basement at the former space. Once the buildout is complete, Gardner and his team will install finishing touches like shelving and window displays. In the meantime, Kautz and the small staff are walking inventory over to the new space.
“I’ve literally been just wheeling things over, Kautz laughed. “I bought wheels for all the clothing racks. We’re just going to roll them down the street.”
The new location, between Kaladi Brothers Coffee and Tavolàta is about 2,600 square feet, and features a garage-style, roll-up window. In October of last year, Bassline Fitness announced it was permanently closing the Pike location due to challenges from the COVID-19 crisis.
While being a mom-and-pop retailer of relatively inexpensive items has its own challenges, Standard Goods was able to open a second location on Ballard Avenue NW in the fall of 2019, which has also weathered the pandemic.
“We’re so small, it’s just me and my wife and my few employees,” said Gardner. “We were doing good enough to do the Ballard store. I just thought, another store with a little bit more revenue coming in helps us do other things, like we’re launching health insurance for instance for our full-time employees . . . We have a 401k and health insurance now. We’re trying to grow a little bit. It’s not easy right now because of COVID, but we’re doing what we can.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, both Standard Goods locations closed from March 16 to June 1st. Kautz said the help of government loans helped keep the retailer afloat, especially in a year with business down about 40%, a number pretty consistent with what other companies are reporting, she noted. “It wasn’t a good year for anyone, but we’re grateful it’s not as bad as it could have been,” Kautz said.
During that time, the retailer expanded their webstore offerings, but Gardner, acknowledging the trend of ramping up online sales, said Standard Goods has first and foremost been a brick and mortar shop, and plans to (mostly) stay that way.
“We think that the future is actually in brick and mortar,” Gardner said. “We think it’s good to zig when everyone else is zagging. Everyone else is like, ‘Online-this, and subscription-that,’ and ‘Customers aren’t going to come out again.’ I don’t think any of that is true . . . We like to talk to people face-to-face. We like people to be able to try on clothes, and be able to really look at the jewelry we have, and hunt through all of our pins and stickers. We learn a lot from talking to our customers. It’s a better environment.”
The Standard Goods move may be part of a trend as the Pike/Pine area reawakens in a hoped for post-pandemic reopening. CHS reported earlier this year on the few block move of neighborhood sports fashion and vintage shop Throwbacks Northwest.
A benefit of being a small retailer is being responsive to customer demands. When asked about top sellers during the pandemic, Standard’s Gardner answers without hesitation: “Sweats. We were hustling to get sweatshirts and sweatpants . . . and facemasks.”
Gardner anticipates different products will be in demand as King County maintains a tenuous hold on Phase 3 status, with the possibility of moving to a “next normal.” Go visit Standard Goods and pursue their current offerings at the new space on May 1st.
Standard Goods will open in May at 501 E Pike. You can learn more at thestandardgoods.com.