Pulling the plug at Old Wooly's

Old Wooly’s antique mall on Pacific Avenue is closing.

Nik Nak Paddy Wack on Pacific would like to move, but owner Cora Foxworth is finding it hard to find affordable rent elsewhere.

Broad Sword Video Productions on Pacific is moving as we speak.

Reportedly, Empire Night Club on Pacific may also be closing. Owners could not be reached by press time to confirm this.

Is there a pattern here?

As tentative plans by the Navy to raze the west side of Pacific between Burwell and First Street become less tentative and more certain, business has “gone to hell in a hand basket,” according to many renters along that block.

One owner, Lou Ann Quast of Old Wooly’s at Pacific and Burwell, which is closing the end of February, blames the Navy and, well, us — the press.

“If the Navy hadn’t let it out so soon, and if The Sun and you guys (at the Bremerton Patriot) hadn’t spread it all over the front page,” she said, “we wouldn’t be losing so many of our venders and have to close.”

Quast, who co-owns Old Wooly’s with her sister and mother, said they’ve lost 15 dealers since word got out, and expect to lose a half dozen more within the week. They started out with 50.

Rent charged to dealers for separate stalls in the 10,000-square-foot building pays rent on the building. If there are no dealers, there’s no cash for the landlord, Dean Miyakusu of Bremerton.

Miyakusu said he was was not happy either.

“Nobody told me what their (the Navy’s) plans are,” he said in a phone interview. “All I do is read about it in the papers. I haven’t a clue what’s going on. It puts a lot of folks in a precarious position, financially.”

More than one renter and owner said the early release of the planned buffer zone was intentional — to rid buildings of tenants early and depress property values, making it easier for the Navy to bring in the bulldozers.

“I’ve owned the building 10 years. The city doesn’t give small merchants and owners much help. I don’t expect to get a fair price for (my property),” said Miyakusu.

Quast was asked where she’d relocate.

“Tell me where?” she said, shrugging her shoulders. She explained that the way Wooly’s got so many venders in the first place was because of low rental rates for stalls. This was because of the low rental rate on the building. Downtown Bremerton has long been a depressed area. “Our stall rates are better than Port Orchard, Poulsbo.”

Quast said Wooly’s was able to corner the market on new vendors starting out and on small vendors who can’t get space anywhere else in the county.

Old Wooly’s has been an antiques mall for four years. The Quast family has owned the business two-and-a-half years. In addition to the family, Wooly’s employs two — a full-timer and half-timer.

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