Robbie Pirhadi calls the ghosts her store's security system. Each evening when she leaves Consignments Etc. in Issaquah, she bids the spirits...

Share story

Robbie Pirhadi calls the ghosts her store’s security system.

Each evening when she leaves Consignments Etc. in Issaquah, she bids the spirits good night, and — if indeed they exist — tells them they’re in charge. Pirhadi believes whoever haunts her building has good intentions and a great sense of humor.

“I’m not a person who runs around waving crystals or holding séances,” the Bellevue woman said. “But I’m never lonely when I’m here in the store by myself. It’s a good feeling.”

Two weeks after she opened the store June 23, 2004, she heard footsteps upstairs. Although there is a small upstairs storage room, the footsteps came from an area where there’s no floor, only rafters above the ceiling.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

She also carefully labeled the switches on the electrical panel near the entrance to the storeroom. The labels would be rearranged when she returned in the morning. Clocks get reset, not once but several times. The microwave dings when no one is using it, the phone dials itself and chairs are rearranged after the doors are locked at night.

“My husband and two sons thought I was way out to lunch,” Pirhadi said. “Then one day my husband heard the footsteps.”

Their son Jordan helped her lock up one afternoon when they needed to do a pickup. When they returned, less than an hour later, four chairs the Pirhadis had arranged around a dining-room table had been moved. Since then, her son has refused to go to the upstairs storeroom.

Robbie Pirhadi said the ghosts seem to have definite opinions about her used merchandise. She put round, braided cushions on chairs that matched a colonial table. She surmised the ghosts didn’t like the cushions, because they were thrown about the store or rearranged each night until the dining set sold.

She theorizes the resident spirits are Alex Strnard and Dick Bernsten. According to the Issaquah Historical Society, Bernsten and Strnard had the building on Sunset Way built and operated City Auto, a car-repair business, there.

Some years later, the building housed Browse & Barter, a used-goods/antiques store. Kaye Adair of Issaquah knew the Ericksons, owners of the business. When told about Pirhadi’s experiences, Adair attributed them to a man who used to work for the Ericksons at Browse & Barter.

“He died unexpectedly,” Adair said. “But he loved the place. He devoted his life to Browse & Barter.”

Pirhadi believes there are two ghosts, and she credits them with saving her from a bad fall. She was in the shop and moving furniture but forgot she had put a small hamper in the aisle and was walking backward, pulling a piece of furniture. Just before she reached the hamper, someone or something thumped her on the back.

After her bottom was firmly patted one day, she got firm and told them to knock off the personal stuff. And she has told them the restroom is off-limits. Otherwise, she’s happy for their company, even if she can’t see them.

“I feel very safe with them around,” Pirhadi said. “Between Alex and Dick and the Police Department across the street, I’m well-protected.”

One last grin

A Kirkland mother was talking to a friend about the challenges of rearing teenagers. She came up with a perfect analogy.

“Parenting a teenager is like climbing Mount Everest in a bikini while walking backward, blindfolded. Most of the time you feel totally unprepared, you can’t see where you’re going, you fall down a lot and sometimes you get buried under an avalanche.”

Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or sgrindeland@seattletimes.com