Pink Gorilla had a lot of issues with burglaries and break-ins last year, but the oldest retro/import games store in the Pacific Northwest is actually expanding its footprint in the Seattle area.
The company rang in 2023 with the opening of a new shop in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, its third location in the city.
The growth comes after a difficult 2022 for the original Pink Gorilla store in the International District, which was hit with a $14,000 burglary in July, followed by an armed hold-up in October, in addition to multiple other incidents such as broken windows. According to the store’s co-owners, the location had more problems with crime over the course of 2022 than it had in the previous 17 years.
Pink Gorilla was thinking about moving out of the International District, where several businesses have left in recent years. Instead, its owners have opted to open a new location in Capitol Hill, in part to make sure its employees keep their jobs, and its original location is staying put.
“We’ve been in the International District for 17 years,” Pink Gorilla co-owner Cody Spencer told GeekWire. “If we leave, that place is kind of doomed. It’s just a spiral. Another business leaves, then another and another.”
Spencer argues that the International District, despite its current issues with crime, isn’t beyond help.
“The community is definitely trying to save it,” he says. “The Business Improvement Area is trying to make it a better and cleaner place, and their efforts aren’t unnoticed. I don’t want to abandon [the International District], but I also don’t want metal bars all over my store, so why don’t we stick through it as long as possible.”
Spencer worked 12-hour days for almost two months to put the new Capitol Hill store together, which included installing heightened security measures from the ground up.
That new Pink Gorilla is in a 1,400-square-foot venue on 613 E. Pike Street, about seven blocks east from the Washington State Convention Center.
When I stopped by last week, I found the store was still partially under construction, but it features the same celebratory approach to the history and hobby of video games that characterizes the store’s other locations in the city. Pink Gorilla is designed to be fun to visit, even if you don’t intend to spend a dime.
The company deliberately patterns its store design and approach around Japanese video game outlets. It originally opened as Pink Godzilla in Seattle’s International District in 2005, but rebranded in 2009 following a copyright claim from Toho, the owners of the Godzilla franchise.
According to Spencer, the decision to put the new store in Capitol Hill came down to something simple: foot traffic.
“We have the lowest prices,” Spencer said. “The only way we can do that is because a lot of people come through. If we were out in a more rural area, we would probably have to be more expensive. [Capitol Hill] is a perfect mix.”
Pink Gorilla is currently hiring sales associates across all three locations.