Rantz: Homeless bazaar selling ‘stolen’ clothes, booze takes over prime Seattle location

Jul 25, 2021, 4:53 PM | Updated: Jul 26, 2021, 5:21 am

COVID mandates resulted in nearly 150 Seattle businesses permanently closing. But as the Seattle economy finally reopens, residents and tourists have a new retail outlet to buy clothing and alcohol.

It’s a few blocks away from Pike Place Market, occupying prime real estate near Sub Pop Records and trendy restaurants Serious Pie and Shaker + Spear.

But there’s a problem: It’s an illegal bazaar appealing mostly to homeless people. It sells what appears to be stolen goods. And the city hasn’t done anything about it yet.

Shop the homeless bazaar for all your needs (that seem stolen)

The bazaar occupies the sidewalk along 3rd Avenue and Virginia Street in downtown Seattle near a busy bus stop.

You can buy jeans and shirts, some hanging from the fences that line a construction project. The clothing has tags on them. You can also purchase hats, gloves, and scarves. Looking for luggage? The bazaar has got you covered. They even sell laundry detergent.

An array of alcohol lines the sidewalk that is as well-stocked as most liquor stores.

The offerings include several different whiskies, including Maker’s Mark 46 Bourbon Whisky. A bottle of High West Whiskey goes for “around $20,” according to the bazaar proprietor. That’s quite a steal (literally) since a bottle normally goes for $70. It has better prices than Walmart.

Why hasn’t the city moved on the illegal bazaar?

It is illegal to set up an unlicensed retail establishment on a city sidewalk, even in Seattle, especially when selling what is likely stolen clothing and alcohol.

A listener to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH rides the bus nearby for work and says she’s seen the illegal shop for weeks. In the photos she provided, you can see homeless people serving as customers. She suspects the items are stolen.

So far, the city of Seattle hasn’t cleared the homeless bazaar, even though the Mayor’s Office was made aware of the sidewalk nuisance. It was still there on Saturday. Across the street, homeless addicts line the sidewalk harassing passersby.

The Mayor’s Office ignored questions on whether or not they supported efforts to remove the bazaar from the sidewalk. It’s the response of an office that has given up on returning Seattle to a respectable city.

Seattle Police made contact

Police took notice of the homeless bazaar on July 5.

“This area is notorious for its high occurrence of narcotics and disorder crime, including shoplifting and retail theft conspiracy to fuel the local street narcotics trade,” an officer wrote in an incident report.

An officer contacted and identified the would-be small business owner, but the incident report doesn’t name him.

The officer says he “noticed a bottle of whiskey ‘High West’ retailing for around $70. When asked how much he sells a bottle for [suspect] stated, ‘around 20 bucks.'”

“All the bottles of liquor appeared to be sealed. None of the bottles had anti-theft devices. This seemed odd as [suspect] was claiming to sell liquor he purchased at a dramatic loss,” the officer wrote. “I asked again how [suspect] received the liquor. [Suspect] stated that when the Belltown night club Amber went out of business, he spoke with the owner and bought the liquor in bulk at a steep discount of roughly $300 for dozens of bottles of liquor.”

The officer explained to the suspect that selling liquor on the sidewalk is illegal. But there was no evidence to prove the alcohol was stolen, so the high-priced liquor was not confiscated. He recommended misdemeanor charges, but the case was not sent to the Seattle City Attorney’s Office until after the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH inquired about why the bazaar was allowed to operate.

A spokesperson with the Seattle Police Department explained that the case was delayed due to a backlog. The SPD sends roughly 100 cases to the municipal court each day. But, the spokesperson explained, “due to COVID and layoffs due to budget cuts, we have a backlog of approximately 2,000 cases waiting to be verified.”

Homeless markets aren’t new for Seattle

This isn’t a new phenomenon for Seattle. Parks overrun with homeless people have turned into open-air markets for months.

The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH previously covered the Ballard Commons, which homeless people turned into an illegal market that trafficked stolen goods like bicycles and drugs. Denny Park was known for selling narcotics.

Last November, KOMO TV’s Jonathan Choe also chronicled the “underground economy” that grew during the pandemic as the city of Seattle refused to intervene in growing encampments. With cops hamstrung by an antagonistic city council and the smallest deployable staff since the 1980s due to a mass exodus, officers haven’t been able to do much.

When the Seattle City Council and Mayor’s Office gave the green light to the homeless to do mostly as they pleased, vowing not to sweep encampments or enforce most laws, these markets started to flourish.

You would think as life returns to normal, the city would be interested in cleaning up the downtown core. But as the economy reopens, perhaps this homeless bazaar plays a crucial role in attracting tourists back to the area. Sure, they’ll have to shop around the homeless people mulling around. But isn’t a 71% markdown on quality whisky worth the eyesore?

Did you like this opinion piece? Then listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Parler, and like me on Facebook

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to jason rantzTune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-6pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.

Jason Rantz Show

Jason Rantz

mask, lunch...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Students told to wear mask while chewing lunch, district cites nonexistent guidance

Tacoma's Geiger School demands students chew and swallow their lunch with their mask on. The district backed the policy on guidance that doesn't exist.
2 days ago
critical race theory...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: District tells staff to defend critical race theory, but deny they teach it

Puyallup School District staff were given partisan talking points to deny that they teach Critical Race Theory and attack Republicans.
3 days ago
Seahawks, mask...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Mask mandate ignored at Seahawks game, highlights progressive hypocrisy

Seahawks ignored the mask mandate at Lumen Field. But will there be any consequences or media fretting over the super spreader threat? Nope.
4 days ago
Sawant recall...
KTTH staff

Recall group files new complaint over Kshama Sawant campaign spending

The group seeking to recall Councilmember Kshama Sawant filed a complaint alleging that she hadn't disclosed funds used to challenge the effort in court.
7 days ago
religious accommodation...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: All COVID vaccine religious accommodation requests rejected by Washington State Patrol

The Washington State Patrol has rejected every single religious accommodation request it has reviewed so far. But they say it's not a policy to reject them.
8 days ago
insurance rates...
KTTH staff

State lawmaker takes aim at rising insurance rates, blames executive overreach

State Senator Mark Mullet is aiding a lawsuit against the Washington Insurance Commissioner in the hope of lowering insurance rates for Washingtonians.
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
By Alaska Airlines

Calling all football fans: follow Russell on the road

Take your Northwest spirit that we’re known for on the road this season with Alaska Airlines.
By Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Rantz: Homeless bazaar selling ‘stolen’ clothes, booze takes over prime Seattle location