Here’s what’s going on inside the vandalized Bellingham store

Wink Wink Boutique opened on Friday, August 12, after a week-long closure because five men threw fist-sized rocks through its windows in an apparently politically motivated attack.

“People have been coming in all week to shop as we prepared to reopen the store,” owner Jenn Mason told the Bellingham Herald.

“We’re thrilled to open our doors and get lots of hugs,” at the “not scary” sex shop located among the storefronts lining the parking lot on Commercial Street downtown, she said.

The total cost of the damage remained unknown because the City of Bellingham, which owns the building, has not received an estimate, Director of Public Works Eric Johnston told the Herald.

Insurance will not pay to replace damaged windows and inventory, which will be “extremely expensive”, said Mason, who is also an elected member of the Bellingham School Board.

To help offset the costs, a Venmo account had raised nearly $19,000 by Friday morning, Aug. 9, Mason said, and another fundraiser on the GoFundMe website had received more than $6,300 in donations.

“If people tried to get us to change our minds about what we’re doing, they failed,” Mason told the Herald for an earlier story. “We don’t back down from what we know is right. We will continue to serve our community.

IMG_9316.JPG
Volunteers Keith Negley, left, Jes Bonin and Heather Malcolm paint a mural on plywood that covers shattered windows at the Wink Wink shop in Bellingham town center on Tuesday August 9. Robert Mittendorf The Bellingham Herald

Bellingham Police released a photo Wednesday August 10, which shows five young men walking down a town center lane towards the car park at 3.19am on Sunday August 7, minutes before the attack.

But no arrests were made and police provided no new information on Friday.

Mason, his staff, and school district employees have been the target of repeated harassment and threats over the past 18 months due to comments in right-wing media that misrepresent facts to portray Mason, his store, and the school district as a false day.

Also on Wednesday, a dozen people protested classes Mason, who is also a certified sex educator, teaches young people called “Uncrige Academy.” Parents have enrolled their children and paid for the classes, which complement the factual sex education that all schools in Washington must provide starting in kindergarten. Some of the protesters were unaware of this and also seemed oblivious to the fact that Mason was elected to her school post with 76% of the vote in 2021.

One of the protesters repeatedly made ‘white power’ hand gestures as he stood in front of the black-owned business, Mo’s Parlour, which is opposite the store owned by Mason, who is Jewish.

This week’s news put Mason on the regional and national stage, and she gave interviews Seattle media, as well as Jezebel magazine.

Meanwhile, local artists volunteered to paint a colorful mural on the plywood that city workers used to cover the windows.

“It’s a happy, colorful, minimalist celebration,” said Jes Ronin, whose studio is across from Wink Wink.

“I’ve been following what happened online and thought it was awful. It took (the vandals) a few minutes to mess things up for people and we’re willing to put in the time to fix it. repair,” Ronin said.

Robert Mittendorf covers civic issues, weather, traffic and how people cope with the high cost of housing for The Bellingham Herald. A journalist since 1984, he is also a volunteer firefighter for the South Whatcom Fire Authority.