In what amounts to a tacit admission of defeat, PCC announced that it was closing its downtown location less than two years after its big ribbon-cutting opening ceremony in early 2022. The store, located on Fourth Avenue and Union Street inside Rainier Tower, will close on January 31 of next year, reports the Seattle Times.
This is a bummer for downtown residents who favor the high-quality, high-priced groceries sold by PCC. Other than the H Mart on Second Avenue, there aren’t many grocery stores in the neighborhood, and presumably more people will now be making the trek over to the Interbay Whole Foods.
The closure wasn’t totally unexpected. PCC reported losing $250,000 in 2023, and about a third of that loss was due to the poor performance of the downtown location, the chain said. And the store seemed star-crossed from the start. It leased the space in 2018, but since then has suffered several setbacks: Amazon changed its plans to occupy Rainier Tower (which would have been a big boost to the store), then the pandemic lockdown effectively emptied the downtown core. Though many workers have returned to the office, the area isn’t back to normal. Writes the Times in its story on the closure:
Downtown workers are still at around 50 percent of their pre-pandemic levels, with the biggest numbers midweek. According to PCC employees, that translates into busy lunch hours Tuesday through Thursday and almost nothing on the weekends.
Just as some people viewed the opening of the PCC as a sign that downtown Seattle — which has struggled the past few years with high crime rates and public hard drug use — was being revitalized, the announcement of its closure is seen by some as a sign that things are trending the wrong direction.
“This is a sobering reminder that city officials must do everything we can to ensure that conditions within our purview contribute to a thriving business climate, starting with public safety,” Sara Nelson, a pro-business City Council member, said in a statement to the Times.
But others have argued that overall, downtown has been showing signs of life. Certainly Pioneer Square, not far away from the downtown retail core, has been thriving, and the resumption of cruise lines and stadium events have brought in a lot of tourists. Though not many of them shopped at the PCC, apparently.