Just Around the Corner: The end of another Seattle landmark

First & Pike News at Pike Place Market closed Dec. 31 after 40 years in business.

The corner news stand has been a local landmark at Pike Street and First Avenue, once offering over 2,500 types of magazines and newspapers from all over the world.

Owner Lee Lauckhart, 78, plans to retire and work on projects around his house, as well as read and travel.

Amid the hustle and bustle of last-day business, owner Lee Lauckhart was surprisingly calm. A landmark of Pike Place Market for over 40 years, Jan. 31 was the last day of business. No one buys hard copy anymore, Lee said. Everyrone is tied to their smart phones. The news stand once boasted over 2,500 types of magazines and newspapers. Now, it has only a fraction of that.

The past 10 years, 78-year-old Lee has been living off his Social Security income; whatever the news stand made went into the employees’ salary (which was above minimum wage, thank you very much), as well as their health care coverage.

Me: Do you see a silver lining out of all this?Lee: Well, for me, I think it’d be okay (to retire). As far as magazine sales, I don’t know where you’d go in Seattle. Elliott Bay Books is gonna be about it.

Me: What’s gonna happen to this corner?

Lee: Don’t know. Somebody could decide they want to try it again, I don’t know.

Woman to me: Why don’t you buy it? Do you have any money?(I laugh).

Lee: Buy it? You could walk right in. If somebody came to me and wanted to buy it, they’d have to pay for the inventory, which is about $50,000. Then they’d have to pay something for the 5-year lease. Then, they’d have to see if they can make it, or lose all that. Nobody wants to do that.

Woman to Lee: What are you gonna do every day?

Lee: I’ve got a lot of things. I’ve got an old house falling down. I could do all those things, but I just didn’t have time or motivation.

Me: I just wanted to congratulate you for taking care of your staff all these years.

Lee: I’ve been lucky. Mostly I’ve had good people.”

— Story and photos by David Carlos


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