South Seattle History: Memories of Chubby & Tubby

South Seattle History: Memories of Chubby & Tubby

Founded in 1946, Chubby & Tubby grew into a Seattle institution, with three locations offering bargains in hardware, housewares, and garden supplies. Their famous Christmas trees sold for 97 cents in the early years and were still a bargain at the time the business closed in 2003.

We asked readers to share their favorite Chubby & Tubby memories and received dozens of responses. Here are 25 of the best…

1. Reshonna Booker: I thought everyone that shopped there was “rich” when I was a kid. You weren’t cool if you didn’t purchase a pair of converse from Chubby & Tubby. When my mom bought me my first pair my eyes lit up like a Christmas tree, and remember telling everyone at school that I got them from Chubby & Tubby. It was the best feeling ever!

2. Gregory Donadel Rafanelli: Dad used to buy 2 of the cheap C&T trees and then got the drill out to fill in the blank spots on the best tree with branches from the other. Genius.

3. Sandra MacLean: My first house was behind Chubby and Tubby. I would go down each evening when the truck arrived to search for my perfect tree. For $5 you could buy a tree that on any other tree lot would cost $100. You then could go into the Garden shop and find all the lights, ornaments and stands that you would ever need. What I loved the most was that on Christmas Eve, they would leave the fence open and people who wouldn’t even be able to spend $5 for a tree, could have a beautiful Christmas. In the morning, there would be no trees left in the lot. I am sure that this became a tradition for many families in the Valley to get their tree on Christmas Eve and then to decorate it for the Season. I miss C&T very much.

4. Daisha Britt: Chubby & Tubby was a big part of my sister Rhonda Ballard and I. We left home at the age of 7 and 8 to walk down to chubby and tubby (really long walk , but short for us at the time). We got in huge trouble, as our mother didn’t know and we just took off walking down Rainer. My grandmother would have us dashing in and out of Chubby & Tubby for panty hose. We were forbidden to go to church without them. If you needed tennis shoes… Chubby & Tubby had all the latest styles. The Christmas Trees… we always got OUR tree here! Right across the street in the lot. This store was more than just a store, it is part of my family history!!!!


Photo/Emiliana Chávez

5. Emiliana Chávez: I used to take my dogs there for pictures with Santa.

6. Erich Zimmerman: I always got my Chuck Taylors there, a wading pool for my apartment and a cookie press that I still have. We got our tree there pretty much every year after getting married until they closed. Best, though, was the year our daughter was born late November. We had given up on decorating, so my brother- and sisters-in-law went to Chubby & Tubby on Christmas Eve to get a tree and we decorated it that night. Very fun.

7. Michele Bayle: For years was my favorite place to get my Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

8. Sylvia Rollins: We haven’t bought a real Christmas tree since quit being available there. Nor did we ever figure out a good place to buy shoes for the whole family. Or Carharts for that matter.

9. Amy Joan Fay: When times were tough my dad would get two chubby and tubby trees and wire them together. Sometimes even three trees. My dad ties big red bows on [the thin branches] instead of ornaments. He made those poor little trees “real perdy,” as he would say.

10. Lavenia Natuna: I loved going there and buying shoes and during Christmas time YES it was the $5 Christmas tree. It was a bargain depot for us and browsing along the aisle was just an entertainment in itself because the stuff you find and the prices. Sure miss that store.

11. Joseph Givins: 1979: I had a job at the UA Cinemas downtown. With my first paycheck, I went to Chubby & Tubby to buy two pairs of Converse high tops, one purple one red. I tramped all over town in my mis-matched shoes.

12. Ryan Wong: “Got my first pair of Adidas Stan Smiths for marching band there.”

13. Dionne Malatesta: They had all the best Seattle gear. Real cotton waffle knit long johns, flannels, shrink to fit Levis, converse and a variety of lace up boots. Plus light bulbs, shower heads, and nuts and bolts. Everything a 90’s Seattle 20-something could want.

14. Betina Simmons: We used to walk from Mt. Baker to get a $5 tree. We went with my Buddhist step father who was not a fan of Xmas. By the time we dragged it home, the tree was definitely of the Charlie Brown variety.

15. Terri Lucrisia: That’s where my father always got our Christmas tree! And on allowance day we headed straight there to get a new pair of Levi’s, and a pair of converse! It was a staple store for us! Miss this simple uncomplicated days!

16. Yalonda Gill Masundire: Chubby and Tubby was the local store to get school shoes growing up in Mt. Baker. Does anyone remember Pay-n-Save and Tradewell?

17. Donna Lew: We would go to Chubby & Tubby (1950’s) on Christmas eve and get an inexpensive/sometimes free tree. For a family on limited funds .. they made a holiday difference. Christmas Eve would be spent decorating the tree and of course Christmas morning .. there appeared magically gifts. Fond child hood memories.

18. Carrie Siahpush: The BEST for army boots in the grungy 90’s were found at Chubby & Tubby.

19. Megan Collins: We would buy 2 $5 trees and tie them together to look more legit!

20. Barbara Krause Nitta: My favorite Chubby & Tubby memory is of our annual Christmas tree adventure. Every year from the time I was married in 1979 until the very end when Chubby & Tubby closed their doors we went on December 15th and picked out our Christmas Tree. It was a family favorite Christmas tradition for many many years… I still miss it!

21. Frank D Doolittle: Got my first pair of converse there!!

22. Cecilia Cordova: I would buy my $5 Charlie Brown trees at Chubby and Tubby and dressed the tree up like a ballerina at the nutcracker for my kids, when they were little. Good times.

23. Kat: Very much so. I lived in Holly Park. Worked a minimum-wage job. I had two sons. Chubby and Tubby was not just our one stop Christmas shop. It was birthdays, back to school, and favorite place to spend allowance money.

24. Kathie (sorenson) Snodgrass: Oh, yeah! I miss Chubby & Tubby’s. I still have some Christmas lights my parents bought there in the 1950s. And I remember every summer going down and getting to buy a pair of zoris (now called flip flops) that I wore to destruction.

25. Mary LeLoo: I moved to Seattle without knowing people but in 1971 a coworker told me that Chubby and Tubby on Rainier had great trees. So I drove my trusty little black VW Bug there. I picked out a huge tree, and by opening windows, I flew home to 14th and Denny with the tree hanging out both sides of the car. Getting it up 3 flights of steep stairs is another story! But thus began my love affair with C & T. Years later, my family moved near the Green Lake/Aurora store. It was our go for shoes for 3 growing children and for allowance spending. Needless to say, I cried when Chubby & Tubby closed. It wasn’t just a store, it was family.

Was Chubby & Tubby part of your Christmas tradition? Photo/GO: South Seattle


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