B & D Aquarium: White Center fish store forced to move – but where?

Story and photos by Deanie Schwarz
Reporting for White Center Now

Got someplace a business owner can move $25,000 worth of fish, fast?

Bruce Donahue, owner of B & D Aquarium at 10402 16th SW, has been selling live fish and tank equipment for 18 years in White Center. Like most businesses during this economy, things are slower, but he has been holding steady and been able to retain his two almost-full-time employees and pay his bills.

Now, though, he’s dealing with a crisis. Donahue’s landlord, Tony Califano – who Donahue describes as “great” — delivered final notice that he must be out of the store this week because the property is going into foreclosure.

B & D Aquarium rents the space they’ve occupied, but they’ve maintained it all of these years as if it had been their own property. “We never bothered the landlord. We fixed everything ourselves,“ Donahue told WCN.

He is uncertain whether there is a new owner or not, but for him it doesn’t matter as he has been told to vacate by the landlord. He says he found a Notice of Foreclosure on the door in April, warning that if payment from the landlord wasn’t received by June 8, the building would be put up for sale at auction. Donahue hoped a sale would be arranged and that the aquarium shop’s uniquely complicated inventory was being explained to potential buyers so Donahue could remain as a renter. As of last week, the hope of remaining in the space vanished. He now is desperately seeking a new space in the White Center, West Seattle or Burien areas.

B & D Aquarium has a 40-year history in southwest Seattle. Donahue says the shop was located next to the old Fred Meyer on Roxbury for a dozen=plus years and before that, next to the old Arctic Circle at 35th and Roxbury. He’s been selling for nearly 50 years, and many of his West Seattle and White Center customers go back three generations.

Moving an inventory of more than 200 tanks with thousands of live fish is no simple process. In order to migrate the fish out of the current location in plastic bags, tanks have to be set up, acclimated and ready to receive them in a new shop that has been specially wired and piped for the equipment.

He and his employees have begun packing up as much as they can, but the live stock is problematic until they secure a new location. His inventory value exceeds $25,000 and is in jeopardy. Somehow, he must find a site, negotiate the costs, take measurements, wire and pipe it and set up the tanks; and all of this while trying to conduct business at the old location to keep revenue rolling in, all while honoring the June 8 deadline (Wednesday).

“I’ve been out of touch with the rental market for 18 years,” he said. “I’ve looked at a few places. My employees, friends and customers have been looking too.” But Donahue has not found one that fits his site requirements or his budget. “The rental prices in White Center I’ve found are ridiculous! Things have changed. I am currently paying about $1,000 per month. I’d like to find something near that, or less, “ he said. He says he needs between 1,500 – 2,000 square feet. “But I know I might not find what I want.”

(Steev Ward, an employee for 18 years, enjoys a good conversation with a couple of longtime customers)

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16 Responses to “B & D Aquarium: White Center fish store forced to move – but where?”

  1. I know of a place, do you have a number to contact them?

  2. Deanie Schwarz Says:


    Try 767-0511.

  3. Thank you Heidi & Deanie, warms the heart! :)

  4. Wow, I would think that maybe some business person could buy the building at auction and then offer them a new lease? If I had the money I sure would.

  5. foreclosure usually takes a LONG time…i am surprised to hear the “you need to be out in a week” – is there any way he can go around the landlord to the bank?

  6. BD, i know this is late in the game, but have you spoken with an attorney? In some cases, if the lease was signed before the landlord’s loan, the lease takes precedence and carries over to the new owner.

  7. Momma Bowler Says:

    So sad to hear about this. I have been there many times myself (also at the old Fred Meyer location too). Good luck to you all.

  8. You need to talk to Chris Benis asap! He is a true advocate for tenants rights and will guide you in what is legal and fair for you as a renter/tenant –

  9. Apparently the building has been sold & the new owners want it for their immediate use.

    Never had a Lease in 40 years, was always month tho month!

    Thanks all.

  10. Wow so sad to hear this. I hope you find a new place soon. I got both my Axolotls at your shop. Love your store.

  11. BDAqua, month to month with that much inventory? I give you credit for taking that much risk for so long and for 40 years! i hear that right now it is a great time to negotiate for longterm leases at lower rates. I wish you the best of luck and hope that you can stay in WC!

  12. I used to ride my bike to the old location by Fred Meyer:)
    What about Chuck and Sally’s on 35th and Graham in West Seattle.

  13. We’ve tried contacting the number posted on Chuck & Sally’s several times… no reply, same with many that have numbers posted, thanks though!

  14. What about the former Bernie the Butcher store in the Top Hat neighborhood?

  15. Thanks Marlene, unfortunately that’s way out of our financial reach, though it’d be a dream if we could have that big of a place & afford to fill it! :)

    We did find a place, 2 blocks away…

    10450 15th ave SW, it’s a house owned by F.O.E, a nd they are being fantastic about trying to get us in there, we’ll have to down size a bit, but probably wise with the economy the way it is.

  16. we are moved 10450 15 th ave sw . come check out the new shop.