Postal Plus owner Ed Zhang has found a new Capitol Hill location for his business in time to move off 15th Avenue East with minimal disruption to service.
Zhang has been serving post office customers from his small outpost at 1463 E. Republican since 1987. He began looking for a new spot last year, when he learned his rent would be nearly double.
Zhang is set to sign a 10-year lease with an option for two 5-year extensions at the former Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair at 1211 E. Denny Way, between 12th and 13th avenues.
While smaller than his current location, Zhang said the layout will work better for customers, and parking appears better.
“It seems that the rent there is more reasonable,” Zhang told a group of customers and concerned residents during a Save Our Post Office meeting Sunday, Feb. 26, at Victrola Coffee.
Organized by resident Ellen Taft, the meeting had initially been planned to strategize relocation options for Zhang, whose current lease expires at the end of March. Instead, Zhang provided more details about the new location, before Taft turned the conversation toward a community effort to get rid of the two pot shops in the neighborhood, adding she is not interested in taking the lead on that front.
“I looked a lot,” Zhang said when asked about other possible locations, “this is the final one. It happened that this one is the best one.”
A dry cleaning business near Walgreens wanted $60,000 to leave, he said, and Safeway couldn’t provide 24-hour access for post office box customers, of which he has 150.
“We have to keep the mailbox,” Zhang said. “We offer more service than making money.”
Raymond Angel said 12th Avenue is growing.
“I think you’re making a very good move,” he told Zhang.
Angel used to operate Angel’s Shoe Repair next to Postal Plus for 35 years, but then the property owner raised the rent.
“First they took me out,” he said, “now they’re taking him out.”
Capitol Hill’s first pot shop, Ruckus, opened in Angel’s old storefront in December 2015.
Zhang said the landlord wants to rent his space to Ruckus, so it can expand and compete with Uncle Ike’s, which opened across the street.
“After the lease, they told me they won’t renew the lease anymore,” he said.
A contractor is lined up, Zhang said, and the expectation is to move out at the end of March and be open on East Denny Way by April 1.
Pot shop woes
While Capitol Hill’s only two marijuana stores keep up the competitive rivalry, Taft and several attendees at Sunday’s meeting talked about shutting them down.
Angel didn’t want to be a part of that conversation.
“I got pushed out by a marijuana shop,” he said, “but I also got taken in by one.”
Uncle Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg took him in, Angel said, providing space next to his marijuana store for him to continue his shoe repair business.
“I can’t vote against the marijuana shops,” he said.
Angel said Eisenberg also came to the 15th Avenue East Merchants Association prior to opening, saying he would address any concerns.
“The other fella, he came in through the back door,” Angel said.
Robert “Shaggy” Lee said people do need to stop sleeping in doorways and getting high in front of businesses, because it’s bad for considerate customers. He added he goes to the edges of the area for his consumption.
Wendy Riley has a mailbox with Zhang, and said she will continue to patronize his business. She added Zhang being forced out is just the result of a capitalist society, and the neighborhood will continue to change once upzoning occurs.
“They didn’t have to renew his lease,” Riley said. “They didn’t.”
If residents want to protest a business, she said they just shouldn’t patronize it.
“When Ed moves, I’ll move with him,” she said. “We have to vote with our money, just like they are.”
With Zhang set on a new location, Raman Khanna, a constituent services representative from U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s office with experience working with the Postal Service, helped where he could.
Recently confirmed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions opposes marijuana use, which is still prohibited at the federal level. Khanna said it’s still uncertain what actions Sessions may take against states where medical and recreational marijuana is legal.
Khanna recommended retail marijuana opponents at Sunday’s meeting communicate their concerns to state and local representatives.
The group agreed it would like to approach the Capitol Hill Community Council for support.