No returns: Owner says Capitol Hill classic consignment shop Le Frock won’t reopen after COVID-19 closure

(Image: Le Frock)

Capitol Hill vintage and consignment shop Le Frock survived the redevelopment of its original E Pine block but it won’t make it through the COVID-19 economic crisis.

Longtime manager and current owner Paula Lucas tells CHS she is closing the store for good after some 29 years of business on Capitol Hill.

“After this virus goes away the face of Seattle is going to be very different,” Lucas said.

Uprooted and in business in the 600 block of E Pike since 2013, Lucas says she is now busy at Le Frock preparing to return consignment shoes and clothing to their owners. She said she tried applying to grant programs like Seattle’s Small Business Stabilization Fund but Le Frock ended up part of the 8,750 or so businesses that didn’t get funding. Besides, she says, the money would have only been a band-aid. Continue reading

After lockdown and burglary, Capitol Hill candy shop Rocket Fizz could use a lift

Rocket Fizz Broadwa’s GoFundMe is here

If you can’t have love for a Capitol Hill candy shop, move along. Here is a boost for Broadway’s Rocket Fizz:

Rocket Fizz will be celebrating its 4-year anniversary next month. We have worked hard to make it a welcoming and fun experience for adults and children alike. To this day, we enjoy seeing some of the same customers we met during our first summer. We’ve applied for all the grants, loans and assistance available but no funds have been secured yet. We reached out to the landlord for rental assistance during the shutdown but have not received a response. What we want more than anything is to reopen our doors to the neighborhood. One month’s rent/expenses would be help us bridge the gap until other funding can be secured. Any assistance would help us we be ready to open our doors when the time is right.

(Image: CHS)

Add the four-year-old retailer to the list of neighborhood businesses that might not make it through the crisis. It didn’t help, owner Theresa Sindelar tells CHS, that the shop suffered a damaging burglary last week that left shattered glass and ruined inventory.

CHS wrote about Sindelar’s move from Omaha as a candy shop franchisee here in 2016. “It was just so fun to have happy customers every day – i just kind of fell in love with concept and found out Seattle didn’t have one yet, so he kind of helped me get it off the ground,” Sindelar said at the time. “We figured Capitol Hill has a great vibe and a kinda fits in with our inventory.”

If you’re a fan, you can learn more and make a donation of support here. Know of other Capitol Hill and Central District area businesses that need a lift. Let us know how we can help. If you need your sugar fix, Sindelar says she can also take orders and requests via email at rocketfizzseattle@gmail.com.


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More COVID-19 tweaks to Capitol Hill grocery shopping: lines to get in, one-way aisles, U-Scan bottlenecks, and $2/hour ‘hero’ pay

Officials continue to try to fine tune distancing restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 and one of the core remaining public activities for Seattle residents is also undergoing some tweaks and new restrictions. You’ll see new lines outside Capitol Hill grocery stores and more changes inside including one-way aisles and, hopefully, more protections to keep workers safe and healthy.

Washington’s labor and industries department this week issued new guidelines for the industry:

The L&I guidance requires stores to have a social distancing plan, ensure frequent hand washing, and provide basic education to staff about how to prevent the spread of coronavirus. To protect workers, L&I strongly recommends steps like installing hand sanitizer dispensers for customers, ensuring people handling money and retrieving carts are wearing gloves, and marking on the floor and enforcing six-foot increments at checkout stands.

Area stores have implemented many of the recommendations. All three Capitol Hill QFCs now limit the number of customers allowed inside, for example. You will also find changes like one-way aisles to help shoppers maintain distancing.

Under union pressure, QFCs have also added a “hero bonus” temporary $2-an-hour hazard pay and are providing workers with disposable masks. Continue reading

From within Capitol Hill’s Chophouse Row, you can now have care packages full of delicious, local things sent to your favorite Seattle ‘stay home’ castaway

Dinah’s Cheese from Kurtwood Farms may save the day (Image: Good in Seattle)

A Capitol Hill business owner is helping lead the way on a new project hoped to help small shops and food and drink crafters from around the community stay connected to the city as “stay home” restrictions continue.

Good in Seattle is a local delivery box “that comes full of products made by small businesses in our community” — from fresh pasta from Lagana in Ballard to records from Broadway’s Spin Cycle.

Brandon Waterman announced the new project this week with lots of connections to the home of his Good Weather bike shop and cafe, 11th Ave’s Chophouse Row.

The new shopping and delivery service won’t depend on bikes, though. The packs are too heavy for cycling, with plans to fill the parcels for weekly delivery around Seattle:

Every week, you’ll have the opportunity to pre-order boxes, delivered directly to homes in Seattle, so it’s easier to support the companies you love. This is our way of celebrating the amazing things this city continues to offer each and every one of us. Your support helps to assure the future for all of the participating companies and, as a bonus, you’ll get some help filling those idle hours at home with delicious and fun stuff.

Lagana Foods – Fresh Pasta with Pesto Nettle Sauce

Seawolf Bakers –  Sourdough 1/2 Loaf

KurtWoodFarms – Dinah’s Cheese (1/2 round)

BellFlower – Single-Origin Chocolate

Sweet Alchemy – Ice Cream – “London Fog”

Nashi Ciders – 4 pack of deliciousness

Seattle Made Wine by Elsom Cellars

Stoup – Double Crowler

Beneficial Brewing Kombucha

Salt Blade – Salami

The Kitchen Imp – Spice Packets

Beneficial Brewing – Kombucha 2-16oz cans.

Herkimer Whole Bean Single Origin Coffee – 12oz bag

Westman’s Bagels – 2 pack with Schmear

Beast & Cleaver – Sausages

Ayako & Family – Jam – Plum Jam

“We’re starting off with a morning box and an evening box with products from more than 15 great companies and will figure things out from there,” Waterman said.

The boxes aren’t cheap, ranging in price from $85 to $160 depending on the mix you choose, but think of them as the ultimate self care reward or a proper COVID-19 relief package — pay attention, Congress — to send to a friend or loved one in the city.

The initial roster has some familiar names from around Chophouse plus a few new things to try. “Some things you may have never tried before, others are probably tried and true favorites,” Waterman said.

You can check out the options and sign up at goodinseattle.com.


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‘A month’s rent’ — Purr-haps pitch in to help Twice Sold Tales

Elliott Bay Book Company is weathering the storm of the COVID-19 crisis with a shift to online sales and local delivery along with a healthy dose of positive labor relations. A smaller, simpler, Capitol Hill sister book retailer, Twice Sold Tales doesn’t get the nationwide love of Elliott Bay but it, too, is trying to hang on through the outbreak and the ripples of economic challenges. Continue reading

Love and labor rights in the time of COVID-19: The Book Workers Union forms at Capitol Hill’s Elliott Bay Book Company

A constantly shifting set of rules and regulations for small businesses in the midst of a global pandemic and an important step forward for its workers’ labor rights has made a very unique situation for one Capitol Hill business.

Elliott Bay Book Company, the most prominent shop in Capitol Hill’s independent retail scene, is closed to the public and moving its sales to phone and online only through March 31st to do its part to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But it is also the center of what could be a big change for labor rights for Capitol Hill retail workers.

Friday, a small group of current and former Elliott Bay employees announced the formation of the Book Workers Union. And, unlike many other small, local efforts around unionization, they announced they were moving forward already recognized by management.

“Many of our customers treasure Elliott Bay because it represents an alternative to Amazon, a company that has posed an existential threat to our bookstore and bookstores across the country,” two-year employee Jacob Schear said. “But by recognizing our union, Elliott Bay has set itself up to be a true alternative to Amazon.”

Joined by Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, Schear also made it clear the independent book retailer was ready to work with the newly formed effort.

“The management and owner, Peter Aaron, has formally recognized our union,” he said. “We are a union shop! We worked very closely with managers at Elliott Bay and we’re excited that they recognize what a thoughtful and talented staff they have who keep every aspect of the store running.”

Now the sides will need to set about bargaining “for a fair contract on behalf of the employees of the Elliott Bay Book Company,” the union said in a press release.

In its announcement, the Book Workers Union set out its objectives. “The union’s members believe a bookstore is much more than a retail space, and they will work to make sure Elliott Bay’s role in the community reflects the values and character of its staff,” it reads — Continue reading

Despite COVID-19 shadow, Capitol Hill Farmers Market going on as scheduled for shoppers — and vendors

(Image: CHS)

Looking for some normalcy as you “Spring Forward” from this COVID-19-shadowed end of winter?

Organizers of the Capitol Hill Farmers Market say the weekly gathering of local farmers, food, and, drink is still on for this Sunday on Broadway:

Farmers Markets in Seattle will continue as planned this weekend, including the University District, West Seattle, and Capitol Hill Farmers Markets, run by the nonprofit Neighborhood Farmers Markets, and the Ballard Farmers Market, run by the Seattle Farmers Market Association. The markets offer year-round economic opportunity to over 200 Washington State farmers and local food businesses, and also provide access to fresh nutritious food in local settings.

“It is important that everyone understand farmers markets are a place to buy nutritious local food, not a social event,” Jennifer Antos, executive director of the Neighborhood Farmers Markets said in the announcement of the decision. “As an organization based in community connection, our top priority is the health and wellness of market shoppers, vendors, and our staff.”

Don’t forget your clocks will leap forward. This Sunday also brings the start of daylight saving time.

Continue reading

CHS Pics | New gates at Harvard Market

A first in the world, sensor and camera-filled, checker-less grocery store backed by a $938 billion retailing giant just opened down the street.

Harvard Market, the Capitol Hill shopping center at Pike and Broadway, and its QFC have added… new parking access control equipment. Continue reading

There’s a 25,000-square-foot grocery coming to 23rd and Jackson — and it might just have Amazon’s name on it

Coming later this year to 23rd and Jackson

Bubbling to the surface years before this week’s opening, the first clues CHS discovered that retail giant Amazon was planning a new grocery store on Capitol Hill were small: city paperwork with project manager names and shell companies.

In the days leading up to the debut of E Pike’s Amazon Go Grocery, CHS started looking into a similar new set of bubbles that has started in the area — 23rd and Jackson in the Central District.


BECOME A 'PAY WHAT YOU CAN' CHS SUBSCRIBER TODAY: Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Join to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.


There, where the neighborhood’s Red Apple was demolished in early 2018 to make way, construction continues to create the Jackson Apartments, two seven-story buildings from developer Vulcan Real Estate with a combined 532 apartments, a whopping 44,000 square feet of commercial space, a massive amount of underground parking with room for more than 500 vehicles, and, yes, a 25,000-square-foot grocery store. Continue reading

You’ve heard about H Mart, here’s how the rest of Capitol Hill Station’s mix of retail, food, drink, daycare, and new home for the farmers market is shaping up

While it might fall short of visions of a bustling European market above a busy transit facility, the grocery, shops, cafes, farmers market, and, yes, a daycare facility set to open in the new buildings above Capitol Hill Station later this year will be intentionally smaller in scale than the massive development they are part of.

“We felt like there was a real demand for just smaller shop spaces,” Jill Sherman of Portland-based developer Gerding Edlen tells CHS.

While hundreds of new market-rate apartments and much needed affordable housing part of the project will be welcomed to Broadway, Capitol Hill Station’s lead developer has also set about trying to meet the promises over community priorities it made to win the bid to lead the project’s development process.

But don’t expect La Boqueria, Barcelona’s sprawling public market. Instead, Sherman said the vision for the project has shifted to the realities of present-day Seattle small businesses with an emphasis on smaller spaces, lower rents, shared facilities like restrooms, and, especially, local ownership.

“We ended up going with a small shop space instead of open market or food hall,” Sherman said.

For shoppers and commuters, this is how Capitol Hill Station’s retail, food, and drink spaces will fit together. Continue reading