South Perry Blog

Someone shot the water heater

Mark Camp, who started The Shop on South Perry Street in March of 1999, stands outside his newest project: the Jones Radiator Bar on East Sprague. (Pia Hallenberg)
Mark Camp, who started The Shop on South Perry Street in March of 1999, stands outside his newest project: the Jones Radiator Bar on East Sprague. (Pia Hallenberg)

When Mark Camp rented the building that's now The Shop, back in 1994, his landlord carefully pointed out that the water heater had been shot three times. "It was pretty crazy. He showed me where the bullets had gone in through the frontdoor, hit the water heater, and out back," Camp said. "And then he said he'd get me a new one." Camp was doing metal work in the shop - a retired garage - and plans of opening a coffee house were somewhat off in the future. "There were other businesses here, like The Black Forest Deli and there was the DC Hip-Hop store, a record store," said Camp. "But it was a rough neighborhood." A friend on the SWAT team flat out told Camp that he shouldn't go into the neighborhood at night. "There was a murder in Grant Park, but I really didn't think much of it," Camp said. "I'd moved here from the worst part of Minneapolis." Five years later, on March 22, Camp opened The Shop together with two friends and the little coffee house soon became the hub of the neighborhood. Almost at the same time, the City of Spokane began looking at improving the street with lights and trees - South Perry became a pilot project of sorts in the city's Centers and Corridors Growth Management plan. Camp went from business to business trying to start a business association. "Some people said it was a waste of time, that no one from outside the neighborhood would ever come here," said Camp, who later sold The Shop business but still owns the building and the Altamont Pharmacy building. Camp said Mel Silva, who owned an antique store just up the street, was a great supporter of the neighborhood in those days. "He was all gung-ho about it, he helped out a ton and so did lots of other people." Camp, who still lives in the neighborhood, loves how things are turning out these days. "Everything we did with The Shop, and later The Scoop, and the live music and the outdoor movies, was to bring people here," said Camp, whose next project is a beer-centric saloon on East Sprague. "We wanted to get people to come from the outside of the neighborhood." And today they do.




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Pia Hallenberg



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