Begin’s owner in Ballard, MK Byrne, made headlines last week when she fought off a thief who broke into her jewelry store at 5349 Ballard Ave NW.
We reached out to MK to find out more about the incident, and she shared the following story.
“Ballard is where my wildest and most beautiful dream came true: to open a shop selling my jewelry designs and become part of a vibrant community. Ballard is my heaven on earth.
However, many businesses in this community have suffered from damaged windows, stolen goods and harassment.
In my own store, we had a major broken glass panel every week for three weeks in a row. The glass side panel was smashed by a three-person crew on March 1. The team came prepared with a glass breaking hammer. The alarms sounded and the police arrived in about an hour. The following week, our front door was smashed by a cement brick. The alarm sounded again, and this time it took two hours for the police to arrive. Finally, a window was cracked by a stone throw on March 21. It wasn’t serious enough for the police to come.
On the night of March 22 at 5 a.m. a thief broke through our back window and entered near my workbench in the corner of the store. He started taking whatever he could. I had decided to stay in my store that night with my 120 pound pony bear, Ashitaka, on a hunch the crack in the window meant someone was coming back.
The world seemed to be in slow motion and the burglar was taking his time. I called 911 and started yelling at him to get out. After seeing that he was alone and didn’t appear to be armed, I started moving forward. I threw down the first thing at hand – a heavy bottle of hand sanitizer, and I’m pretty sure I hit it. Ashitaka, normally a very nice boy, was barking like crazy.
I was lucky enough to ward off the burglar and prevent him from damaging my store or much of my inventory. Staying in my store overnight was a dangerous decision, and I should have prepared differently, and I’m so sorry to those looking after me that I put myself in danger. I lost sight of my own safety through anger and fear, protecting what is most precious to me: my place in this community and my ability to create.
BEGIN is my sacred space.
The reality is this: a small business cannot even sustain a major loss. If the thief had taken my inventory or damaged my display cases, it would have taken at least six weeks to replace the product. Even if my insurance company compensated me, six weeks of closure would surely mean that I would have to abandon the staff I love very much and face bankruptcy. I started this operation from scratch and funded my rapid growth on credit cards. Like many entrepreneurs, I don’t have a disaster cushion.
Many businesses around Seattle are facing rising insurance rates or an inability to obtain insurance. The rampant crime in our beloved cities is a problem we must begin to heal. It is a complex issue, involving income inequality, systemic bias, a broken justice system and, at its root, I believe, a deep wound caused by our separation from Mother Earth. But the enormity of the problem cannot be an excuse for not starting to find a way to cure it. We all have something to protect that’s at stake.
I’m an artist, and if it were up to me, I’d spend my days walking barefoot on moss in the morning picking up curiosities in the woods. I was spending the afternoon making things with this amazing team of people who come to work together in my shop. But right now, I’m fighting for our safety and security, rather than creating. If fighting and protecting is what I have to do, I will do it with the same spirit that I make my art. I will look around me with an open mind, find unexpected ways to connect, and do the most beautiful thing possible.
Photo: MK Security Camera Surveillance Video