It’s that rainy time of year again. If you’re walking along Queen Anne Avenue North, you won’t need to curse your forgotten umbrella anymore. Local merchants have sponsored 100 community umbrellas that will be installed today.
Each of the eight panels on the big, blue umbrellas is sponsored by a merchant: Bella Fiore Med Spa, Charley + May, HomeStreet Bank, Queen Anne Book Co., Queen Anne Chiropractic Center, Queen Anne Dispatch, Queen Anne Real Estate and Three Birds.
Hossein Soleymani, assistant vice president and branch manager at HomeStreet Bank (1835 Queen Anne Ave. N.) first came up with the idea eight years ago, but it didn’t go far: It cost too much money. So he tried again seven months ago. HomeStreet was the first sponsor, but he needed seven more.
Eventually, Soleymani was able to get seven other sponsors to pay for the 100 umbrellas and 24 metal stands. The umbrellas and stands were installed along Queen Anne Avenue from West Galer to McGraw street. Each sponsor paid between $700 and $800. All of the business around the area are mom-and-pop shops, he said, so he wanted to keep the prices low.
“My goal was to keep the cost low so it won’t cost an arm and a leg for [merchants],” he said.
Thanking the neighbors
Soleymani got the idea from the big, yellow umbrellas at the University Village shopping center in the University District. Soleymani didn’t directly copy the design, though.
“I didn’t want to have those big pots that University Village had,” Soleymani said. “If you look in there, there’s tons of trash.”
Sabrina Rinderle spends a lot of time in U-Village, so when she heard about the umbrella project, she said, “I’m in, I want my logo on that.” Rinderle, who co-owns Queen Anne Dispatch (2212 Queen Anne Ave. N.) with her sister, helped Soleymani find someone to make the custom stands.
“It seems like a neat thing to tie in all the businesses along the avenue,” she said.
There are at least two stands on each block. Because the stands are installed right next to the business, Soleymani didn’t need to get permission from the city.
“It’s just community umbrellas for people to use,” he said.
Soleymani thinks people will find them useful. Soleymani has two umbrellas in his office, and he always forgets them.
“I walk out there, and it’s like, ‘Shucks, I wish I had it,’” he said.
Soleymani wanted to do the umbrellas for Queen Anne because it’s such a wonderful community.
“I come here, and I feel like I’m visiting my friends every day,” he said. “It’s just my way of thanking the neighbors.”
As people heard about the plans, they brought up the possibility of umbrella theft to Soleymani. It’s possible some could disappear, he said, and if needed, he can reorder.
“Knowing my neighbors,” he said, “I think they will see the value and appreciate having it out there on rainy days and sunny days. I’m hoping we’ll have the 100 umbrellas for a long time.”
This time of year, the Rinderle sisters are always looking for ways to promote their business to the community, Rinderle said. The umbrellas with their logo are a good advertisement.
“Anything outside the business with your logo reminds people you’re here and you want to support your neighborhood and shop local,” she said.
It’s a way for the merchants to say thank you to the community who supports them and to recognize the merchants, Soleymani said.
“You have eight merchants giving back to the community,” he said. “It’s important for these guys to get recognized, people walk [through] their doors and thank them and shop them.”
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