News blog for Seattle's Fremont neighborhood


Avid (rubber) duck hunters maintain world record

May 12th, 2010 by master

Tonight at 7, on King-5’s Evening Magazine, you’ll see one of Fremont’s own denizens amidst a collection that surpasses all others in the world: 5,239 rubber ducks.

I knew I was in the right place when I saw the neon rubber duck in her window (and in my head, I heard Sesame Street’s Ernie singing about his rubber duckie).

A Guinness World Record holder since 2003, Charlotte Lee, 40 – an assistant professor in UW’s Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering – has dedicated the entire small basement of the Fremont condo she’s lived in since December 2008 to her “rubber duckies.” It took her husband – once a reluctant supporter, now an avid duck hunter – months to put up the shelves and cabinet that line the walls down there.

“I like the ducks, he likes the hunt,” Lee said. “It’s a good partnership.”

The collection in 1996 and began as gifts from friends to augment the rubber ducks they noticed she had in her bathroom. Soon, she had 13 or 14 – enough to spark an interest to build a collection. “It started out as a joke. You’re supposed to collect something respectable. But over time, the joke was on me. It’s become a serious collection, over all odds!”
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McPhee’s prepares to move a bazillion things

April 11th, 2009 by master

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.

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Archie McPhee moving (almost) to Fremont

September 30th, 2008 by master

Ballard’s popular toy and gadget store Archie McPhee is moving to 45th and Stone Way next year, a store spokesperson says. A liquor store currently occupies the site. “We don’t have a solid date yet, (and) it depends on when we can get occupancy and finish painting and such,” Archie McPhee’s David Wahl explains, estimating it will be around the middle of next year. You may remember Archie McPhee’s original home was on Stone Way in Fremont, so the new location will be right down the street. And yes, since McPhee’s is moving to the NE corner of 45th and Stone Way, it’s technically Wallingford, according to the city of Seattle’s official map. But barely. Since it’s right on the border, perhaps we can just say they’re back in Fremont?

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