Patrick’s Sunglasses began in 2006 as an independent vendor’s kiosk adjacent to the 405 freeway near Bothell, Washington. Originally based off the somewhat less-traveled 705 in eastern Tacoma, co-founder Pat Ilsum jumped at the chance to relocate to a Seattle-area branch. In Tacoma, Ilsum was situated behind a Wendy’s and briefly, oddly, underneath Ashley Furniture. Also, his new spot allowed him a position directly off the exit ramp, where his only competition was “Black Chris”, who sold flags and blankets. And weed.
When Patrick’s middle child, Michael, came on as intern in 2007, the business changed it’s title to P. Ilsum and Sun, a play on both the duo’s product and legal relationship. Although Michael’s duties at the time were cruelly limited, he slowly took on greater responsibility and soon had a more substantial hand in the enterprise. Then he actually lost his hand in a rope fight.
Quite literally “making a run for the border,” a handless, sweatpanted Michael Ilsum was out-and-out sprinting over Canadian lines when he was stopped by local music and sunglasses enthusiast Phil Elverum. Known for his very persuasive, combative personality, Elverum took the vulnerable, sexually-novice Ilsum under his dark, overtly manipulative care. Commanding Michael to take on his name of Philip, Elverum sent the all-but-enslaved protege back to Bothell with specific instructions. Michael/Philip was to unseat his father, install himself as a sort of puppethead interim ruler while all-the-while Elverum would surreptitiously control the entire business, as well as Michael’s “new” life. It was very weird.
Thankfully taking the command to “eat [your] father alive” as simply metaphorical- despite Elverum’s repeated, frantic insistence on a straight-up insane, face value interpretation- Michael/Philip successfully- and bloodlessly- shepherded Patrick to much less substantial duties within the family business. Eventually marginalized to the point of extreme personal disinterest, power was easily transfered to Elverum by way of M/P’s proxy. Moving quickly from sunglasses and croakies to pamphlets and breathless audio rants, the freshly christened PW Elverum and Sun became the primary outlet for its owner’s deeply troubled worldview.