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

The Best Education of my Life

Photo by Jill Freidberg

Photo by Jill Freidberg

David Smith moved to the neighborhood in 1988. Four years ago, he opened a tiny bike shop across the parking lot from the Red Apple. 

David Smith

I had these things going on in my life, and I knew that I really needed to make my full life’s job just figuring out how to get along with other people. So then when the opportunity came up, I took up a space at Promenade 23 Plaza and started a bike shop where I was going to test, for a few months, the idea of prioritizing learning over sales. That turned into four years now, and it’s been the best education of my life! At the store, I’ve gotten into many conversations with people in a manner which was unprecedented in my life, just people from all walks of life. The store I have now is 100 square feet to work with, and it’s only 200 dollars a month. So I don’t have to worry about - and I am retired, so I don’t have to pay myself a salary - so I’m able to survive, so I’m going to have to look for a business model that would work, that would pay higher rent. There’s no other way to survive. Vulcan has expressed an interest in helping. They wanted to allow me to use a larger space until they knock the building down, so I can see what impact that would have, and if that would make it easier for me to stay here. So, I’m going to have to start billing more and getting more customers. I can’t imagine surviving any other way.