So Long, Red Apple: A Beloved Central District Staple Set to Close

An icon of the CD officially gives way to new development. It closes on September 30.

The Promenade Red Apple on South Jackson Street, as everyone who’s lived in the Central District for any length of time knows, is a whole lot more than a grocery store. It’s a community hub. It’s a place to run into friends and neighbors, to say hello to the same cashiers you’ve known for years and years. It hosts barbecues and backpack giveaways, coat drives and Easter Egg hunts. It also sells things people can’t find anywhere else—like unique cuts of meat (beef feet and pig tails and chicken skin, say) and hearty sandwiches that people say taste better than at other delis. It has long been a beloved neighborhood gem, nestled deep in the heart of the historically black neighborhood.

Seattle has been lamenting the upcoming closure of the hallowed spot for the past year and a half, since Vulcan Real Estate announced the $30.9 million purchase of two parcels at the corner of South Jackson and 23rd Avenue South, slated for redevelopment as a mid-rise apartment complex. The store has since become an oft-invoked symbol of gentrification and displacement in Seattle, as well as a model for how all this new development could go (some say Vulcan has done a good job of involving the community in discussions of what comes next).

Lots of patrons seem to have stories like Lewis Wilson’s: A Central District resident for the past 33 years, he’s been a Red Apple customer for almost as long, as have his now-grown children. “All the people that work here are like friends, like family,” he says, “because I’ve known them for 30-some years! I hate to see them go.” Store employees love the place, too; as Wilson suggests, many of them have worked at Red Apple on South Jackson for decades. One cashier tells me that the fact that one of his colleagues has only been working there for seven years makes her “the youngest one of us!”

The store’s official closure date is September 30, although it’s possible, employees say, that it will close sooner, if it sells out of all of its stock before then. The shelves now stand nearly empty. The barren produce section is stacked with boxes and ringed by caution tape. On a recent weekday afternoon, at least one patron murmured “heartbreaking” as she combed the vacant aisles.

And so, here, a homage in photos: A cherished icon on the eve of change.

Many patrons valued Red Apple because of its wide assortment of products. Photo by Sara Bernard

Many patrons valued Red Apple because of its wide assortment of products. Photo by Sara Bernard

Many patrons valued Red Apple because of its wide assortment of products. Photo by Sara Bernard

Many patrons valued Red Apple because of its wide assortment of products. Photo by Sara Bernard

Many patrons valued Red Apple because of its wide assortment of products. Photo by Sara Bernard

More in News & Comment

King County Bans Solitary Confinement of Juveniles

Policy shift comes as part of a settlement in response to a 2017 lawsuit

Soldiers and civilians at a naturalization ceremony during the 68th Annual Seafair Fleet Week in Seattle on Aug. 4, 2017. Flickr/U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matthew Dickinson.
Seattle Officials Urge Trump Administration to Address the Naturalization Backlog

The Seattle City Council and Mayor Jenny Durkan have called for a reduction in citizenship application delays.

Hundreds of teachers rally outside of John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence to ask for raises in the upcoming contract with Seattle Public Schools. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Is a Strike Looming at Seattle Public Schools?

Some educators say they’re ready to stall negotiations to demand competitive wages.

Race For King County Prosecutor Heats Up at Seattle Forum

Former public defender Daron Morris slams incumbent Dan Satterberg for the use of bail in the county justice system

Democratic Socialist to Run Against Rep. Adam Smith in Nov. Election

After coming up short in early results for Aug. 7 primary, Sarah Smith moves into second place

Sparks Continue to Fly Over Safeco Field Maintenance Funding

PFD board member argues that $180 million in public money for stadium upkeep lets Mariners off the hook.

Photo courtesy of The Herald
Death Watch For Killer Whales?

Grieving mother orca shines a spotlight on a serious ecological issue.

Photo by Josh Kelety
City Council Passes Temporary Historic Protection for The Showbox

With a lively crowd on hand, the Council unanimously voted to delay any demolition of the venue by 10 months.

Most Read