Ok, guys. I’ve been to the place formerly known as the Seattle Museum of Mysteries.* I touched a yeti hair. And recently, I smelled bone-released myrrh. What I’m saying is that I have both a comfort with and an attraction to the inexplicable. It informs much of what I seek and love.
And yet, this has been baffling me for years.
Yes. I am talking about Africa Mama.
I have lived here since 2004. The store was closing when I first set foot on the Hill, back in those halcyon days. I think it may, at this point, have been dying for longer than it’s been alive.
I did a little hunting to see if anyone else has been recording the endless legend of this place. I found a Yelp page for their former location and a 2011 KOMO article… about it closing. Note the exasperation in the headline.
So my impression has always been that it’s a store that takes advantage of cheaper short leases, a la this space in the soon-to-be-transformed building on Broadway just south of Olive. And yet it reincarnates like its using god mode or something.
Someone told me once – probably back in 2006, when I was already wondering out loud about this – that there are laws that are meant to keep people from this kind of constant clearance farce. But tell that to the dude who will be waving the FINAL CLEARANCE!!!! signs at the corner of Olive and Broadway tomorrow.
I admire its tenacity, I guess? And yet, like reality shows, tanning salons, and other things I don’t get, they persist in a way that’s more annoying than it should be.
After the apocalypse: cockroaches, Twinkies… and Africa Mama.
*Its old location. Clearly I need to go again.