The Legacy of Patrick Andre
Patrick Andre, founder of the University District’s The Woolly Mammoth Footwear, was a man with a mission. In the 1970s, offering sandals, leather skirts and sheepskin vests, he helped define The Ave’s “hippie” look. During the 1980s by the help of his wife (Elizabeth) and his friend and manager (Kian) he transformed the store to reflect the changing population. He not only made the store more retail friendly but also added comfort shoes to the selection as well. He redefined the shoe business for many with this new mix and became “The” comfort shoe store. Being burdened by a selection of generational divided brands, he established Five Doors Up, to feature the latest trends in fashion footwear. He not only made his stores a successful family-style operation but also a refuge for student shoppers and young workers. Pat’s mission was “you-have-to-do-right-by-the-customer”. In 1997, the Andres were nominated for a Mayor’s Small Business Award. Kian was nominated for the same award in 2004 and won the Dunn Rupp small business memorial award in 2006.He was also nominated for the Ravi Shankar Humanitarian Award in 2007 for his work with homeless youth.
Pat was planning a career in law. However his journeys took him to Florence , Italy . That’s the place he fell in love with leather goods (come on its Italy ).He began studying law at the Universityof Washington during the late 1960s, and then like most at that time dropped out. In 1969 he shared a communal house with Michael Green, who was beginning to make leather purses that are now the very definition of leather goods in Seattle . In 1970 Pat began his own entrepreneurial adventure with one latigo hide, two bottles of dye and four leather tools (this was in his usual welcome speech for new sales associates). He sold a dozen of his belts at the Pike Place Market in 1969. He opened the Woolly Mammoth in 1970 in a second-floor loft on the Ave. He boasted he could “make anything out of leather,” including shoes, sandals, belts and purses. He named his store the Woolly Mammoth because someone said that was what he looked like. He was well over 6 feet tall, robust, and had lots of long, thick, dark hair. He made most of the merchandise, contracting some to future employees. In the mid-1970s, he moved the store to its present site in the 4300 block ofUniversity Way . He eventually stopped making rough-hewn belts and began selling exquisitely crafted vests, coats, briefcases and portfolios.
He loved leather and working with others, especially the hundreds of young people who came for a job but also got a mentor or in many case a surrogate uncle or father (That was the case for Kian the current general manager and Co-Owner). He cared about all of the street kids and gave hope and support to them. He donated all his discontinued shoes to the local shelters. He loved life, and life loved him back.