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Coffee City

Melissa Allison follows the world's biggest coffee-shop chain and other Seattle caffeine purveyors.

October 21, 2009 at 3:03 PM

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Trabant Coffee sales down in Pioneer Square, where retailers worry about prospect of Elliott Bay Book Co. moving

Posted by Melissa Allison

Trabant2.jpgPioneer Square retailers are concerned about the possibility of Elliott Bay Book Co. moving, they said in a story Amy Martinez and I wrote for today's paper.

They've already been hurt by the dwindling tourist population and the departure of office workers whose businesses have closed or moved. Smith Tower is mostly vacant.

Tatiana Becker, co-owner of Trabant Coffee & Chai, said her shop in Pioneer Square is hurting far more than her University District location, which "is not feeling it [the recession] very much, because students always need coffee. It's a necessity to make it through those classes."

In Pioneer Square, Trabant relies heavily on office workers, particularly lawyers, architects and software engineers.

"We always see new faces [in Pioneer Square], but then there are old faces that never come back," she said, because businesses are moving and shutting down.

October 2008 was the best month for sales at Trabant's Pioneer Square coffeehouse, which opened in 2007. Like other retailers, it saw a dramatic drop in November 2008.

"It was like Halloween came and everyone said, 'The scariest costume is the recession. It's here,'" Becker said. "In 2009, we've climbed a bit, but it hasn't gotten back to October 2008 levels yet."

Still, she thinks the neighborhood will return to its pre-recession trend toward becoming more residential and hip. "The recession put temporary brakes on it."

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