Sunshine Grocery — Then and Now

Way back in ’72 I was a first grader at Briarcrest Elementary School — out on NE 157th, in the Shoreline School District — just a few blocks east of Shorecrest High School. 

Between last bell and the yellow buses pulling out to haul me home, I would sprint the couple of hundred yards to the Sunshine Grocery Store, and with my lawn mowing money, I’d buy myself a couple of Zotz for the long ride home.   I have fond memories of those jogs and the sweet taste of nickel candy with fizzy sugar.

Nearly 30 years later, the Sunshine Grocery had disintegrated into a malt-liquor-cigarette-porn selling, teenage-loitering hangout.  And then it was gutted by fire.  I couldn’t help but do something to bring back the Sunshine that I remembered.  This is what it looked like when we bought it in 2001, for $215,000:


Actually, it was way worse, but I didn’t take pictures.  The owner had collected his insurance money, boarded it up, and left all of his smoke damaged inventory in place.  When we closed (sight unseen), the rats had been partying for months.  Every day for two weeks our workmen would spread D-CON.  And every morning, a few more cat-sized rats would be feet up.  One of the all time nasties in a long line of nasty remodels we’ve done.   And those abandoned RV’s, well – those are harder to get rid of than you’d think.

A year and way more cash than we expected later, the place was back to how I remembered it — pristine, all new windows, new systems, new framing, new roof.  Here’s 1952’s photo from the King County Archive, and today:


I thought it would be easy to find a new Sunshine proprietor; except in 2003 there weren’t a lot of businesses that wanted to reopen a neighborhood grocery store just a few blocks from an Albertsons, QFC, and Safeway. 

After some trials, we found a woman who wanted to realize her dream, and she opened Sunshine Coffee, serving espresso to the masses.  She ultimately moved on, and sold to another guy who tried to expand into teriaki and other cafe type food.  Didn’t work.  So the Sunshine building is once again vacant, standing proud, and waiting for another business owner to fill the space with their dreams and wares.  I think a motivated, community minded businessperson could really make the espresso/sandwich shop work.

We’re back on the market, for lease ($1850) — and we’d entertain a sale — $595,000.  If you have a yearning to do something creative in a great neighborhood commercial space, let us know!  Would love to work with the right person in doing something that benefit the very active and supportive Briarcrest community.   If fact, if anyone out there has a great idea about what this space could be, let us hear it!

UPDATE 5/7 — We now have an agreement with a terrific couple for this building.  Their idea and use is extremely cool and I think will be well received by the community!  So stay tuned for Sunshine rising again.


Gordon Stephenson 
Owner and Licensed RE Broker
Real Property Associates, Inc.

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