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Pandemic toll starts to hit business district

Editor’s Note: Whole Life Yoga is still offering online classes, which you can learn more about here.

With last week’s permanent closure of all the Chaco Canyon Organic Cafes – including their flagship location on 84th and Greenwood – and the announcement by longtime retailer 3 Wishes Clothing Boutique that they will be closing by the end of the month, the lasting impacts of the pandemic are coming to bear. An employee of 3 Wishes relayed the owner had “really no choice under the current retail environment.”

While the City’s commercial eviction moratorium and numerous local and federal relief efforts have breathed life into many businesses, it is also clear that all businesses cannot pivot to a model that will sustain them through the coming year without continued governmental and community assistance.

The outset of the pandemic saw several losses in the neighborhood, including Body By Impulse deciding that they could not ride out their retail lease to Phase 3, the owners of Hecho deciding that it was time to refresh the space with a new concept (bringing back Martino’s) and Caffe Vita abruptly leaving. Recent months have seen the losses of Bohemian Studios, Gibran and Whole Life Yoga among others.

Some of the businesses that we have lost have moved on for reasons not clearly related to the pandemic: Luso relocated to Whidbey Island, Seattle Knife Sharpening moved to Montana, and Chef Liao is being forced out by development of the building.

However, in the midst of all this change, Phinney Ridge and Greenwood are still known as a great place to be a small business. We have seen some notable openings that were in the works before the pandemic, including the already beloved RidgeWood Bottle and Tap and – in the PNA’s parking lot for now but soon in their space in the Phinney Flats – the Bar Method. The former Luso space is going to be Baraka Gemstones and Jewelry, and Caffe Vita quickly became the second location of the Pie Bar. Local building owners and real estate agents are reporting there is high interest in many of the spaces that are now vacant.

The big difference between this business district and others is a collective commitment to community and buying local. If you ask most anyone who lives in Phinney Ridge and Greenwood what the best part of living here is, you will invariably be told that it’s the walkabilty and access to our business district. From the anchors of our community – Ken’s and Greenwood Hardware – to the incredible collection of community-focused banks, to truly unique businesses like A la Mode Pies, Versatile Arts, The Cozy Nut, Couth Buzzard Books, and so many more, we are truly blessed.

As always, the best thing we can all do is Buy Local and then Buy Local some more to support the businesses in the neighborhood we love get through this difficult and challenging time.