Employees, customers are becoming ‘numb’ to downtown Seattle issues

Aug 13, 2021, 5:14 AM | Updated: 10:27 am
Piroshky, Seattle...
Piroshky Piroshky on Third Avenue in downtown Seattle. (Screengrab from KIRO 7 TV)
(Screengrab from KIRO 7 TV)

After a challenging last year and half for many businesses, some are just now getting the chance to finally reopen. On Third Avenue in downtown Seattle there is a shop called Piroshky Piroshky, and Olga Sagan is the owner. She reopened that location on Monday this week.

Within three hours of opening their doors, Sagan says they saw a couple of drug deals, someone exposing themselves, and a knife standoff with police.

“I don’t think this is anything new in downtown Seattle. I think it’s been a problem for a long time,” she said. “… That was a very eventful morning for us.”

Sadly, Sagan says she wasn’t surprised.

“When we opened there three years ago, we knew where we were opening,” she said about Third Avenue.

But three years ago, she explains that there was a big effort to help homeless people living in the area and clean up the streets downtown.

“There was a lot of hope in the air for downtown services,” she said. “So I think that’s why we opened there, and it’s just sad to see that three years later we are in a worse condition than we were three years ago when we were listening to promises of some change.”

Now, Sagan describes how they have two groups of customers. There are those who can work from home or have some flexibility and no longer feel safe coming to downtown Seattle. Then there are those — and Sagan considers herself included in this group — who are almost numb to these issues.

“It’s kind of scary to see that numbness in a way,” she said. “And what we saw on Monday morning, as I said, again, it’s nothing new there. It so happens to be our opening day, … we were telling a story how we’re reopening, and we got to expose it a little bit further, and remind everyone that we’re still dealing with the same problems we dealt many years ago, COVID or not. I don’t personally think it’s COVID.”

Sagan has reached out to councilmember Andrew Lewis in the past, but he finally spoke to her after KIRO 7 TV aired a story about her Third Avenue shop reopening.

“I was happy to see him reaching out because all we want to do is just ask some questions,” she said. “What is the plan? What can we do as a business community or as a business owner, besides opening the doors, providing services, providing food, what else can be done? Because what we feel is we’re doing our job. We don’t want to point fingers, but we also want to say, ‘hey, let’s all do our part here.'”

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She hopes that there can be more consistency moving forward.

Sagan recalls that after the shooting on Third and Pine in January 2020, the mayor came out and met with everyone, promising that there would be an increased police presence and services to help improve the safety of the neighborhood.

“And we all know what happened a few months later, and where we’re at now,” Sagan said, referencing the pandemic that followed. “So I think consistency and long-term planning is something that is lacking so far, and maybe that can be changed at some point.”

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Employees, customers are becoming ‘numb’ to downtown Seattle issues