News blog for Seattle's Fremont neighborhood


McPhee’s prepares to move a bazillion things

By master · April 11th, 2009 · 12 Comments

For 10 years, Ballard residents have been able to stroll down to Market Street and buy everything from a giant shrunken head for $250 to hundreds of tiny treasures for $19.95 a quart at Archie McPhee’s, the wonderfully wacky, tacky store that caters to our inner child.

But, they lost their lease, so McPhee’s is packing up and heading to Wallingford, and they’re saying goodbye to some of the store’s larger fixtures that just won’t fit in the new space. Shelving, racks, an old dentist’s chair, a life-size medieval archer and a custom-built pop-up cake that did a booming business as a rental – all are for sale.

“Usually it’s a hairy man in a coconut bra jumping out of the cake,” Shana, the store manager, explains of the cake that’s now for sale for $1,500. “It’s usually more funny than saucy.”

So, once the big items are sold, how in the world will Shana and her crew pack up the estimated 10,000 different items for the 2.4-mile move to the corner of 45th and Stone Way?

Since they’ll be consolidating from two buildings into one about the size of their main building in Ballard, they’ve had to pick only the finest fixtures for the new store. And they’re packing up their storeroom behind building number two and sending it all up to the main office and warehouse in Mukilteo, where their parent company, Accoutrements, conducts its wholesale and shipping business.

McPhee’s just got the keys to their new building, a former liquor store, on April 3, so first they’ll start painting inside and out. They’ve already painted all the pegboard in four vibrant colors: pink, orange, turquoise and green. “It’ll be nice and bright,” Shana says.

Shana and her staff made a diagram of the new space and spent hours moving around little pictures of fixtures and products, trying to make it all fit.

They numbered all the displays and have packing boxes with corresponding numbers, so they can put items into a numbered box and unpack it on the right display in Wallingford – meaning no rubber chickens or Jesus action figures should go astray.

Some displays may be moved without taking items off – if it has wheels they can just wheel it up and into a truck. For others, they will literally just take the steel peg full of products off the pegboard, put the whole thing into a box, then pull it out and put it on its new fixture.

One thing they haven’t quite figured out is how to display the employee-decorated ceiling tiles from their second building.

“The ceiling is not the same at the new store, but we’ll figure out a way to display them. All the staff was very concerned about taking the ceiling tiles,” Shana says.

The move will start happening as soon as the painting is done, but Shana can’t nail down a time frame. She says they’ll stay open in Ballard and start moving fixtures and product slowly until there’s more stuff at the Wallingford store than in Ballard. Then they’ll close for hopefully just a day or two to move the cash registers and the rest of the inventory, before putting out the welcome sign in Wallingford.

“A lot of people will be very happy because we’re going to be very cramped, much like we used to be in the old space on 35th and Stone Way,” Shana says. “Believe me, it is going to be crammed. It’s going to be crazy. As we say, it’s going to be luscious.”

Oh, and the medieval archer? He’s all yours for just $599.

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jeff // Apr 11, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    I’d still rather be able to walk to buy booze, and drive to buy a Jesus lunchbox.

  • 2 eM // Apr 12, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    i thought we had enough useless crap for sale at not a number

  • 3 fnarf // Apr 15, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Quite so. I want my liquor store back. Not that interested in forced zaniness.

  • 4 Jeff // Apr 15, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Maybe they could put a new liquor store in where that Jamba Juice was for six months.

  • 5 Danny // Apr 16, 2009 at 9:51 am

    I wish they would pay attention to the vibe of the rest of the neighborhood and not paint it that obnactious bright color. It makes Wallingford look tacky.

  • 6 m // Apr 18, 2009 at 7:25 am

    wow – thanks all for reminding me why I moved out of Wallingford over to Ballard.

    No sense of humor…..

  • 7 ninja // Apr 19, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    I’m sad to see my friends leave Ballard….but am excited for them to be back on Stone Way and all cramped and kooky!….and right next to the Boys and Girls Club!!! those kid are going to be stoked!!!!

    Lighten up Wallingford you could use some color and at least you’ll be able to spot it! Unlike the Tiny Winy Hiden sign for Tilth!! (no offese toward the food)

  • 8 white ninja // Apr 20, 2009 at 6:18 am

    I agree it's an eye sore.

  • 9 chompy // Apr 24, 2009 at 1:50 am

    I’m for one a big Archie McPhee supporter. I’ve been visiting McPhees since way back when they were located on Stone Way. I’m sad to see them move to Wallingford because Ballard is closer to me; however, I’m hoping that they are going back to their roots where when you go in to look you have to dig to find that special treasure. My whole family loves this store. My parents come from Tucson, Arizona and my sibling comes from Lake Stevens just to visit this store. Keep it up.

  • 10 k // Apr 24, 2009 at 4:34 am

    So glad Archie's is moving back to Stone Way! The old Stone Way store was a mvls treasure trove; can't wait for the new one.

  • 11 Jeff // Apr 24, 2009 at 5:43 am

    Drove by today. It's an obnoxious bright color. Reminiscent of the McDonald's that used the be across the street. And certainly a more appropriate neighbor for the Boys and Girls Club than a liquor store.

    That being said, I want my liquor store back. I nearly got ticketed when I ran into the Queen Anne location for a bottle of vodak.

  • 12 Sandrew // Apr 26, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Haven't been able to go into that liquor store since I was held at gunpoint there during a robbery in '79 or '80. Welcome Archie and Shana!

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