Archie McPhee’s closes, Maritime’s expands

Updated: After ten years in the neighborhood, Archie McPhee closed its doors for the last time in Ballard on Thursday evening.

They’ve worked for weeks moving a bazillion little quirky toys to their new Wallingford location. Thursday they gave away a bunch of doodads that were left over from the move. They’ll reopen at their new 45th and Stone Way location at 9 a.m. on Monday.

The new boat shop, Maritime’s Marine Centers, which recently replaced Jacobsen’s Marine will be expanding into the Archie McPhee space at the beginning of June. (Thanks Arne for the tip!)

McPhee’s prepares to move a bazillion things

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.

Own a piece of Archie McPhee history

As Archie McPhee gears up for its big move from Ballard to a smaller space in Wallingford this summer, it’s planning to sell some of the store’s retail fixtures. Like what, you ask? How about this giant Ming Dynasty acupuncture model? There’s also a life-size archer figure that would jazz up any living room. “If people want to have a look, they can get a personalized tour of the stuff for sale — cheap!” said store manager Shana Iverson in an email to My Ballard.

Archie McPhee’s book, ‘Who Would Buy This?’

If you could read the thought bubbles of people shopping at Archie McPhee, they’d probably say something like, “Seriously?” and “Who would buy this?” The famous chotchke shop in Ballard has been selling novelty toys for more than 25 years, and now they’ve written a book about it. Appropriately titled “Who Would Buy This?” the book looks at some of their most interesting products along with stories about federal agencies and angry librarians. As one commenter writes on the write-up, “From bacon-flavored dental products to yodeling pickles, avenging mythical beasts to ninja wallets, Archie McPhee is the Mecca for all things awesome. This book offers a look at some of the most successful products and their history, along with a special category for the particularly bizarre.” The hardcover book sells for about $25.

Archie McPhee is moving to Wallingford

Exclusive: Archie McPhee’s is moving to the NE corner of Stone Way and 45th in Wallingford, says store spokesman David Wahl. 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,” Wahl explains to My Ballard, 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 it’s new location will be close by. Two weeks ago, the Ballard store said it was leaving the neighborhood after the land’s owner said he would not renew McPhee’s lease beyond a month-to-month agreement.

Fremont Universe: Technically Wallingford, but can we call it Fremont?

Food Network visits Archie McPhee

During the excitement last week about Archie McPhee announcing it’s leaving Ballard, the Food Network stopped by to shoot a segment on… bacon.

The crew videotaped people sampling various bacon-related products for an upcoming episode of the Food Network’s Unwrapped program. And apparently, Archie McPhee has a lot of it. As soon as we learn the air date, we’ll let you know. (Photo from Archie McPhee.)

Archie McPhee celebrates 25 years

The crazy kids at Archie McPhee celebrated their 25th anniversary today with a sidewalk sale and a visit from none other than the Rat City Roller Girls.

The Roller Girls sang “Happy Anniversary…”

… and served up free cake with a devil duckie on top, of course.

The sidewalk sale behind the store featured all kinds of good stuff priced by the box or even by the carload. A fun event. By the way, McPhee’s said they’re still waiting to see how the new toy legislation will affect them, not to mention the skyrocketing land values in the area.

Free Ballard Day

On May 29, 1907 at about 3:45 p.m., the city of Ballard was annexed into the city of Seattle because the water smelled like a dead horse. Citizens then weren’t happy with their new status, and 101 years later Ballardites are still miffed. Thursday is “Free Ballard Day.” Last year (on the 100th anniversary) there was an anti-celebration and gathering at the old city hall, and people were encouraged to wear black. This year, Archie McPhee is remembering the day by giving away a free gift to anyone who comes in and tells the cashier the secret word. While we can’t tell you what the secret word is, this photo might help. Happy Free Ballard Day!