Out of the ashes: Al’s Music reopens after fire

Store relocated from Center Plaza to 30817 Pacific Highway S., Suite B.

After it was destroyed in the Center Plaza fire last May, Al’s Music, Games and Video is serving customers at a new location in Federal Way.

The store, owned by father and daughter duo, Wes and Alex Geesman, reopened at 30817 Pacific Highway S., Suite B, in January.

Al’s was one of nine businesses damaged in the May 21, 2017, fire in a 22,000-square-foot strip mall building, 2020 S. 320th St. Investigators determined the fire originated in a restaurant, but never determined a cause.

In addition to Al’s, Subway, Total Vape, Mi Tiendita Latina II, 2NE Pho, Ace Dry Cleaners, Emerald City Smoothie, a smoke shop and MOA Hair Studio were damaged or destroyed in the fire.

Alex Geesman said Al’s lost most, but not all, of its inventory in the blaze.

“All the discs and video games were destroyed. All the records were gone,” she said.

Some retro Nintendo games survived the fire and were able to be cleaned up, she said.

It took about seven months to find a new space in Federal Way after the fire, Wes Geesman said.

“The opportunities for another location were kind of limited,” he said.

The new location is about 30 percent smaller than the Center Plaza space.

“We managed to cram all the good stuff in there,” Wes Geesman said.

Tim Johnson, city of Federal Way economic development director, said his department reached out to all the businesses owners affected by the fire to offer help in relocating and four responded.

Moa Hair reopened at the former Top Foods. Emerald City Smoothie owners were in the process of selling their businesses, and Subway decided to wait until the building is rebuilt, Johnson said in an email.

Customers have been excited to see Al’s return, Alex Geesman said.

“It was really heart-warming in a way,” she said.

“People see the grand reopening sign and they are like ‘oh my gosh. We’re so glad you are back.’ ”

Al’s has two locations: its flagship store in Seattle’s University District and the Federal Way location. The Tacoma store closed when the Federal Way store reopened.

Wes Geesman opened his first music store in 1974 and set up shop in what is now Azteca in Federal Way in 1982.

In 2002, the shop moved across the street to Center Plaza.

In addition to selling merchandise, Al’s is always buying games, records and CDs, Wes Geesman said.

“We’re not like pawn shops where they just give you 10 cents or 25 cents,” he said. “We pay very well. We appreciate people bringing stuff in.”

Al’s is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.