Weekend vandalism ‘a targeted, violent attack ... on everything we stand for,’ owner says

·3 min read

Vandals over the weekend struck a Bellingham business whose owner, staff and others have faced repeated harassment and threats in the past year.

Video of the incident shows a group of five young men throwing rocks into the windows about 3 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 7, at Wink Wink Boutique, a “woman-owned inclusive all-ages not creepy sex shop” at 1302 Commercial St. in Bellingham, said owner Jenn Mason.

“It’s certainly a targeted, violent attack, not only on us but on everything we stand for,” Mason told The Bellingham Herald in a text message.

“I can see from my cameras that they stood outside and timed throwing them through all my windows. They took nothing, they didn’t go in the store. I was the only business hit,” Mason said.

A damage estimate wasn’t complete, Mason said.

Bellingham Police Lt. Chad Cristelli told The Bellingham Herald that the incident was being investigated as first-degree malicious mischief, which is a Class B felony in Washington state.

Despite weekend vandalism, Bellingham store “not backing down from what we know is right”

“Our forensics folks are analyzing the video,” Cristelli told The Herald in an email.

Wink Wink’s social media accounts said the store would be closed until further notice.

“We put a call out for help and downtown business owners, staff and supporters came down immediately to help us out,” Mason said. “Knowing so many people have our back makes a really hard day a lot better.”

Dozens of well-wishers left comments of encouragement and outrage on the store’s Instagram page, including neighboring businesses and the Downtown Bellingham Partnership.

“We’ll be in touch to help with repairs and do our best to remind folks to #bkind. You are loved downtown,” the business group said.

Donations to help cover the cost were being accepted through Venmo @winkwinkboutique.

Volunteers helped clear the mess, and a city crew placed plywood over the windows of the store, which is part of the Commercial Street Parking Garage and Wink Wink is a tenant.

“City crews from the Facilities Division of the Public Works Department were on site mid-morning on Sunday for close to four hours to assist in securing the storefront,” Public Works Director Eric Johnston told The Bellingham Herald in an email.

“The city will continue to support our retail enterprise tenants at the Commercial Street Parking Garage. We are in the process of assessing costs of the damage to the city’s building but do not have information on that topic yet,” Johnston wrote.

Doug Starcher of Bellingham was among about a dozen local residents who lent a hand Sunday.

“Everybody’s initial reaction was anger, but it quickly turned to defiance,” Starcher told The Herald.

Well-wishers left notes for Jenn Mason and WInk Wink employees on the boarded-up door of her business at 1302 Commercial St. in Bellingham, Wash., on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022.
Well-wishers left notes for Jenn Mason and WInk Wink employees on the boarded-up door of her business at 1302 Commercial St. in Bellingham, Wash., on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022.

Mason, who is an elected member of the Bellingham Public Schools board, has been the persistent target of right-wing media criticism that has portrayed Wink Wink in a false light. Reports on Fox News, The Federalist and others have prompted harassing phone calls aimed at school district employees, Mason and some of her staff at Wink Wink, according to previous Herald reporting.

Most recently, right-wing media has been targeting an upcoming series of sex-education classes that Mason is offering for youth called “Uncringe Academy.”

Those classes were planned this week for Wink Wink’s activity room, which has a separate entrance from the store, and the “Uncringe Academy” is not part of the school curriculum.

A damaged window from a vandalism attack is shown at Wink Wink Boutique, 1302 Commercial St. in Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday. Aug. 7, 2022.
A damaged window from a vandalism attack is shown at Wink Wink Boutique, 1302 Commercial St. in Bellingham, Wash., on Sunday. Aug. 7, 2022.