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New Crown Hill business hit with break-ins twice in same week

(KIRO7 image)

No sooner did a new Crown Hill shop bounce back after being broken into that burglars hit the small business a second time.

Wonderland Gear Exchange, which Ben Mawhinney and Nate Seiberling opened in December, is an outdoor recreation consignment shop where people can find used equipment and clothing for sports such as skiing and backpacking at a lower price than for brand-new gear. Mawhinney described it to KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson as “an REI garage [sale], but year-round.”

“We try to keep the quality high so that people are getting gear that’s going to last them a long time,” Mawhinney said. “For other folks that are ready to upgrade or decided not to participate in the activity for as long as they thought they were going to, rather than [the gear] sitting in their garage or their closet, we help them find a new home for it.”

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But unfortunately, despite a very welcoming first few months, Mawhinney and Seiberling soon got a taste of the downsides to owning a business in 2019 Seattle. Either late in the evening on March 15 or early in the morning of March 16, someone broke into Wonderland Gear Exchange and stole merchandise.

“It is a first-time business for us,” Mawhinney said. “It’s hard not to take it really personally … You feel violated, you don’t feel fully safe. You build up so much trust within the community, and people have been so welcoming of us, by and large here, that you just kind of forget that you’re vulnerable to those kinds of incidents.”

The Crown Hill business made security improvements after that break-in — and just in the nick of time too, it seems. Only one week after the first break-in occurred, burglars tried to get into the business again.

“It definitely happened quicker than we thought, but fortunately security upgrades deterred who we are guessing were the same people,” Mawhinney said.

Luckily, Wonderland did not lose any inventory the second time.

“Hopefully word gets out that we’re not an easy target,” Mawhinney said with a chuckle.

To show their resilience and determination to keep moving forward — along with a healthy sense of humor — Wonderland made a post on social media showing the broken windows and telling people that there was no need to break in when a sale would soon be coming.

While the crimes are a tough blow to any business just starting out, Mawhinney and Seiberling are focusing on the tremendous support from the Crown Hill community that they have received, both in their inaugural months and especially since the break-ins.

“We’ve got such a strong team and we’ve really been trying to generate a positive community in the business,” he said. “I think for Nate and myself, the attitude has to be, we’ll control what we can control, we’ll improve what we can improve. But we’re so excited to be doing what we’re doing that we’re going to pick ourselves up and move on.”

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