Shelf Life Community Story Project
Amplifying community voices, learning from neighborhood stories, and interrupting narratives of erasure in Seattle's Central District.

Helping People

Photo by Inye Wokoma

Photo by Inye Wokoma

Michael Moss has managed the Red Apple since 1996. He is also an ordained Baptist minister.

Mike Moss

Mr Lenny Rose, he grew up in that neighborhood, and when we hired me, we had a sit down, his thing was you know, "You're a young black man, that's a black neighborhood, I want you in that neighborhood, and I want you to connect with that neighborhood, because that's why I hired you. I didn't hire you to just sell groceries." He said, "I'll give you a lot of time to do some things to help the neighborhood." I mean he was one of those guys that, if he saw a little kid in the store, he'd make sure, "Get that kid a bike. I don't care how you do it, get that kid a bike." That's the kinda person he is, so he gave me the baton and allowed me to run with that. 

And so we had a Christmas party one time, and Darigold said we're gonna buy you two bikes to give away to kids, and to sit there while they're sitting on Santa's lap and to roll a bike in front of a five year old kid and to see their eyes light up, and then see the tears coming from their mom, because their mom's like, "There's no way I could afford that bike."

And then one time we adopted a family. Everybody went above and beyond what I wanted. I wanted to take care of the family, but it was two car loads worth of stuff. And to be able to drive up to their door, which was like literally a block and a half from the store, and again to see the tears of the mom, because we had toys for her three children, we had dinner, not only dinner for Christmas, we also had dinner for the next three days, that people just kept bringing stuff. 

You know the backpack thing, the lobster drop, we're able to help feed people, free barbecues, free haircuts, we've done so much. And honestly there's some other businesses around us, they're like, "How do you deal with the kids and they're rowdy." I don't have any problem with them, because we've done so much for them, we've gotten a chance to know them, they respect us. I know all your parents, and I tell them that too. But even you know, even in the height of the gang activity, one of the biggest gangs was on 23rd, and one of the biggest gangs on 28th street. We don't have any issue with them, because we built relationships with those kids from the time they were able to walk, until now, even when they come in now, they don't cause problems in our store, because of the respect they have for the Red Apple and the Red Apple staff.