Hansen lamp specialists return to Lake City shedding light - Third-generation business still family affair; second location continues personalized service tradition

When Hansen Lamp & Shade opened on Phinney Ridge, owner Jeff Hansen wasn't even born yet.

Now, 67 years later, Hansen, 46, has launched a second store at the former Lamp Shades Galore site on Lake City Way.

"The new location is actually a homecoming for Hansen Lamp & Shade," he said in a written statement.

A family affair

For the Hansens, the lamp business has become a family affair spanning three generations

During the late 1940s, Hansen's great-uncle Hadley Hansen originally owned the Lake City property and operated a lamp shop at the site until the mid-'60s. He then sold the business, and the new owners continued selling lamps.

When the building recently became available, Hansen and his wife welcomed the opportunity to purchase the site. They thought it would be a good investment for their growing company.

"We are delighted to be back," said Jeff Hansen, who opened the Lake City business in July.

As for the Phinney store, in 1937, Jeff's grandfather, Harvey Hansen, established the Phinney Ridge Hansen Lamp & Music store, where he lathe-spun metal into portable lamps, repaired organs and built and wired electric Hawaiian lap guitars.

When he was unable to find lamp shades in the area to dress his growing lamp inventory, he decided to make his own.

Thus, the focus of the business gradually changed to include only lamps and shades.

Founder Harvey Hansen successfully ran the Phinney Ridge store until 1963, when he sold it to his son, Gail. When Gail retired in 1995, his son, Jeff, took over the business.

Custom-made products

Like the original Phinney Ridge store, the new location offers lamp repair and restoration, as well as a selection of contemporary fixtures and shades.

Owner Jeff Hansen pointed out that the business has evolved to stay ahead of competition from catalogs and large sales outlets.

"We don't do track or recess lighting," Hansen said. "Our niche is a little more high-end lighting, more unusual things you don't see anywhere else that sets us apart [from the bigger competitors]."

In addition to its unique assortment of portable lamps, the company offers custom-made shades and can turn almost any object into a lamp.

They have electrified many unusual items: Army boots, stacks of books, teapots, vintage cigar boxes and even someone's cast.

Musical instruments are among the most popular objects. People have brought in guitars, clarinets and even a euphonium (a four- or five-valved brass horn resembling a tuba).

Lake City manager Jessie Wrenn enjoys handling customer's special requests.

"It's fun and always different," remarked Wrenn, who started out as an apprentice seven years ago.

All in the family

The company now employs eight, many of whom are long-term workers.

Jeff's wife, Lynda, also helps out relining and sewing custom lamp-shades but prefers to work from their Wedgwood home, where she can be closer to their two daughters.

"I feel really lucky," owner Jeff Hansen said. "I've got a really good crew; everybody knows a lot about lighting and shades."

Hansen is also happy to have a loyal clientele, many of whom are antique dealers and interior decorators who regularly patronize the business.

"We have some really good clients who keep coming back, and that really helps," commented Jeff Hansen, who has worked with the company for more than 20 years.

In keeping with tradition, the Hansen's oldest daughter, Erica, may someday run the 67-year-old family business.

But, that may be a while for the 11-year-old, who sometimes plays in the back of the store with her younger sister, Olivia.

"Hopefully, one day, one of them will be interested," Jeff Hansen said. "But we have a ways to go before we have to worry about that."

For more information about its products and services, call Hansen Lamp & Shade:

* Lake City, 10706 Lake City Way N.E., at 363-1635; or

* Phinney Ridge, at 6510 Phinney Ave. N., at 783-6859.

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