Pretty Gritty Tours of Tacoma with Chris Staudinger

hosted by
marguerite martin


A photo of Chris Staudinger with short hair wearing a black jacked that says,

About This Episode

Pretty Gritty Tours is not JUST the most popular tour company in Tacoma, Washington. Pretty Gritty Tours (and its creator Chris Staudinger) are one of the most entertaining accounts about Tacoma on social media. From Tiktok, to YouTube, to Instagram and Facebook- Chris finds stories from Tacoma's past and shares them with us in a way that is entertaining and enlightening. From Tacoma Ghost Stories to being online in Tacoma, we get into it!

Get Personal Guidance founder Marguerite has been a real estate agent in Tacoma since 2005. She knows Tacoma neighborhoods and she knows local real estate agents. She can connect you to agents who are experts in the neighborhood you're looking in, at no cost to you!

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Episode Transcript

  This is channel 253. Move to Tacoma! On this episode of Move to Tacoma. The whole dream to this is with like, starting with Tacoma and now beyond, is that I want people to feel that sense of ownership in their own city. So that when they’re walking around, or they have people who visit them, that they are like, well actually, I can tell you this thing about it.


And it’s. It was rare to have that and I feel like specifically with Tacoma which has a tendency to get a bad reputation from a lot of outsiders. I really wanted people to be armed. With some interesting information.  Channel 253 is member supported. I’m producer Doug Mackey, and I hope you will show your support by going to channel253.


com slash membership and join. Thank you.  We’re back.  I’m Marguerite. And I want you to move to Tacoma. Move to Tacoma, move to Tacoma, move to Tacoma. You’ll like it. Move to Tacoma, move to Tacoma, move to Tacoma.  com  I’m Marguerite, this is Move to Tacoma, and I’m here today with Chris Staudinger from Pretty Gritty Tours.


Welcome, Chris. Thank you so much. You nailed the last name. Oh, thank you. Flawlessly, well done. Thank you so much. I also have an unusual name, so. Media professional, yes. Well, I was very nervous. I was just telling you, I was very nervous to message you because you, uh, have one of the biggest social media followings in Tacoma now.


I was like, maybe he’s big time. Maybe he only goes on Evening Magazine now. I don’t know. Can’t possibly be true. I’m so happy to have you here.  Pleasure is all mine, honestly. Thank you. Well, when did you move to Tacoma and why? Mm hmm, mm hmm. I moved to Tacoma, let’s see, good lord, 2004. I graduated from high school over in Pasco, Washington, and then I moved to the Tacoma area.


Specifically to go to Pacific Lutheran University. So you were in Parkland? I was. Mm hmm. I was in Parkland in 04 myself. Oh! Yeah, we probably both went to the Bayou about the same time. Oh, I used to work at the Bayou. That’s why you look familiar. I was, I mean, not the most attractive waiter, but certainly.


No, the chicken and andouille sausage gumbo, I would get it twice a day. Let me tell you, those jalapeno cornbread muffins. Yeah, do you know that the chef’s brother, like, works at Doyle’s now? See, Bond’s brother works at Doyle’s? Yeah, I think his name is Matt?  Oh, I’m so bad about names, but I’ve been thinking, like, could we get him to do, like, a From the Bayou night, and just make every Sorry, we’re way off topic.


But yes, Parkland 2004, the golden age of, uh Living in the county. Absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely. Right at the ending of filming of Cops. And like, as things were really starting to blossom.  Uh, and then. Did you go to the Tipperary Tavern? God, I lived at the Tipperary.  I was there for quite some time. I was in and out though.


Okay. To be fair with you. And then I wasn’t.  I graduated in oh eight, but I didn’t like settle Dune in the area until oh 2011. 2011. Yeah, I was always.  Uh, Tacoma and I were casually dating. Right. Before we locked it some other people. Make sure it was the right choice. Yeah, 100%. Yeah. Like, you gotta know yourself before you lock it in, right?


It’s a good way to do it. I agree. Some of us never leave, and,  yeah, but you knew you wanted it when you selected it. 100%, right? Okay, yeah. It was no mystery left at that point.  So what neighborhood do you live in? A College Park. Oh, you’re calling it College Park. Yeah, well, because of the Are you part of the College Park cult?


I wouldn’t rate myself that way. In a controversial move, I am against the listing of College Park Historic District. Oh, this is a safe space for that. So what Chris is talking about for the uninitiated is the UPS area, the Puget Sound area of North Tacoma, which is Basically where Doug is pointing at the ground, where the studio is located, um, between 6th Ave and Proctor, and like the Three Bridges area, like, kind of right in there, right around the university.


And they would like to be a historical district. They would.  You know,  controversial, definitely a nuanced discussion. Yes, to say the least. We don’t have to take a sledgehammer to the whole thing. But, I am a voice. Uh, two alternative pathways, perhaps. That’s great. Okay, so College Park. What do you like about living in the area?


The College Park. I love that you call it College Park, even though you’re not for the Historic District. That’s very interesting. I, I think you can be both. Wow. I think you can Already so nuanced. Preserve the essence of a place, but allow it to grow. You know what I mean? They do. Like, there’s, there’s so much opportunity for new generations and new people to the area to have a say in the trajectory of this neighborhood without  robbing it of its soul. 


That’s my, my stance on that. Uh, and I think one of the anchors to it, and my favorite part of it, is the University of Puget Sound campus, which feels like you’re walking through Europe. Yeah. And so. It’s brick. It’s trees. Yeah. And, it’s tough for me to say, as their, like, rival, I don’t know, Pacific Region University. 


Uh, which is the saddest rivalry ever, but I, I will say they have a gorgeous campus. Yeah. They deserve all the kudos. What do you like about living here? I mean, obviously walking through campus, but to like, do you have like a little, like, where do you shop? Where do you go hang out? Do you go to the Red Hot?


I do. I do. Have you heard of them?  I don’t know if you’ve ever met Chris Miller. Um, yeah, I, it’s a very, uh,  It’s a cozy community over here, you know? And so, like, I have kids in the area, and all of the parents are friends with each other just serendipitously, like, being connected here is very important. And this wasn’t something I foresaw.


There was a period where I thought I was going to leave Tacoma, maybe, and start something in Europe, and then I just couldn’t, I couldn’t quit Tacoma. Wow. Yeah. And so here I am, forever and always. In College Park. In College Park, historic district, non preserved. Well, Chris, I am wondering, I’m looking at Doug, I’m like, Is Chris the most famous person we’ve ever had in the studio?


I mean, we have interviewed Marilyn Strickland. She was pretty famous.  We’ve had the governor. Oh, really? I didn’t have the governor. Okay. I didn’t have the governor. I mean, I can’t even be in the top ten. Have you talked to St. Brian?  No. Tawana Nobles. Oh, yeah. Yeah. She’s been. Oh, she’s been in here. Way more famous than me.


Well, let me explain for the people who, I don’t think there’s anybody that doesn’t know who you are, but you have a tour company in Tacoma called Pretty Gritty Tours. That’s correct. You are deeply, deeply on the interwebs. You’re on the instas. You’re on the TikToks. All up in that dark web. You’re on the Facebook.


Uh, you are everywhere and you have gone viral many times. It’s telling the stories of the city in like this very accessible way. And I’m always so, you know, I’m just going to lay it on the list. I’m always so jealous of you because you get to go on the internet and talk about Tacoma and I bet nobody comes on and goes, shut up.


Don’t tell anybody. But I feel like everybody is always so happy to see your face on the internet. They’re always like. so excited. Like, no, you’re making this face. I know. I love this dream of yours. Yeah. No, I mean, look, I’m like, I just, whenever I see you, I’m like, ah,  there he is again, making everybody happy.


Must be nice.  That’s so good. I would love, yes, I would love to believe that. And let’s, let’s, is that not true? Do you have trolls, Chris? Oh, absolutely. Stop it. I am deeply despised online. What? Yeah. Oh, well, you know what? We won’t bore the people with this. I’ll ask you later. Well, I would never know it. I would never know it.


Oh, thank you. It’s a small contingent. OK. Yeah. I guess that’s the attitude we have to have. A handful of people. And that’s what I always say. If you’re, if you’re doing something and it’s just a handful of people. You’re probably fine. Well, how did it start? Like, when did you say, like, I’m gonna, I’m gonna get out my phone, and I’m gonna talk to it, and I’m gonna tell it a story.


Like, how did that begin? Mm hmm. Well, I started way before Pretty Gritty Tours. I used to be a travel influencer. What? Before that was a thing. Uh, yeah. My wife and I were a duo called Captain and Clark, because I was a certified captain, and her last name is Clark. And together we traveled the world.  Uh, exposing the crazy stories of, of everywhere. 


And did you do this in print? No, we were, we were on like the cutting edge where video was becoming the in demand thing for travel blogs. Okay. So like we What year is this, like 2012 or? Oh, 2009. Okay. I think was kind of at the advent where people were seeing more and more video starting to become a thing for travel platforms.


And that was where we were.  So we were in, I mean, we were all over.  We were living in South Korea at the time, but we were traveling globally for it. That’s incredible. It was, honestly. It was really good. So what did you learn from that?  Oh, wow. Where’s the novel? I,  I learned everything from that. It, it has informed very directly.


What I do now in almost every possible way, I think, like as far as like the business model of it, the audience, like figuring out what people want to see. What do you mean by that? How to create online content in a way that people are willing to consume it, how to do tourism. In a responsible but engaging way, how to run a business, how to prepare for the, the dark times in that business, I think, uh, being a, being a travel journalist freelance has very much propelled me to the point where I am right now. 


Which is running my own tour company and being perceived as incredibly successful and famous in the air. No, for sure. For sure. I’m not like blowing smoke. Like I really I mean, I it was funny because I it was I was clicking around before you came in and I was to realize you’re actually still doing tours.


Like I just assumed. And I mean, I don’t know anything about influencing like I monetize when people want a realtor, they ask me to introduce them and those realtors pay me. That’s how I make money. But like, I don’t know how views turn into money. Like, so the idea that you were still doing tours and you have tour guides under you now, right?


Like we’re with you, right? So you’re like, you really are a tour company with a platform. You’re not just a platform that sometimes does tours, right? 100%. Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s our main engine. is the tours. And what are the tours? Can you tell the people? Yeah, so our flagship are our ghost tours. We have at least four ghost tours that we operate regularly in the Tacoma area.


And then everything you can imagine, coffee tours, building tours, history tours, beer tours, everything that you would normally think of when you think of tourism, we have available here.  That’s awesome. So did, what came first? Did the tour come first? Or did the talking about Tacoma on the internet come first?


The tours came first. I was running just the tour business. Like we had a social media platform, but I wasn’t doing it the way that I am now. And really until COVID, honestly.  And then when everything moved virtual. I leaned back into those old skills that I had been using previously as a video journalist and everyone was way more receptive to it than I had anticipated.


So you mean before COVID, you’d be like, Hey, I have a tour company. Click here. When you would go on social media. In that exact voice.  But something like that. It wasn’t, you were talking about the tour company, not talking about the content of the tours. Exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.  And so it was just promoting.


What we were doing on the street. It wasn’t until, you know, in a relatively recent history of it that I started really promoting more of the Regional history and everything online and then the tours were like the secondary part of that. Hmm So  what was the, uh, the post or the video that made you go like, Oh, we got some heat here.


This is a, this is a scorcher. Oh, wow. Uh, I think the very, wow, how do I even break that down? Do you, was there not a video that like went or like had a lot of comments that you were like, Oh, I think I got something here. I don’t want it to sound strange. Let’s see. So the first, like,  uh, I, I was in Europe.


When they were like, Oh, maybe we’ll shut down to flatten the curve. And I landed on March 14th. And so we were like, well, we’ll just, we’ll shut up in the house for a second. And in 48 hours, I lost a year’s worth of business. Everybody canceled their contracts. Everybody canceled their tours. So scary. Uh, and I got into a bottle of Glenlivet 12 years old  and did a Facebook live where I was talking about.


Fort Steilacoom Park, in the history out there. Because I wasn’t going to be doing that tour that week. And everybody was online interacting with it. Because everybody was stuck at home. A hundred percent, right? And nobody had downloaded Zoom yet. And so that was the first time where I was like, Oh, okay.


And so for the next two years The virtual content online was really, really big, and I hadn’t considered doing short form anything really at that point. They were just lives. Yeah, but then, as you know, TikTok was becoming more prevalent, so I did a TikTok just to be like, well, we’ll see. And I think the first one had like 45, 000 views on it.


The first TikTok? Yeah. What on earth? I’ve never heard of such a thing. I don’t know how you game the algorithm, but people were, people were interested, and so I saw that, and then it expanded very quickly.  I’m just, I’m, I’m speechless. Like, 45, 000 views on your first post. I know that was a different time, but that must have been a very compelling post.


What was the topic? Stadium High School. Well, she is a looker.  There’s so many accessible points to that. Yeah. But I, I think, you know, and I, I try to remind people it wasn’t.  A lightning in the bottle kind of moment. It was the culmination of 20 years of doing that specific thing. It’s always a story with an overnight success, right?


Like, it was overnight after 20 years of work. Yeah, 100%. Like, I had been traveling the world. As a investigative travel reporter, I had a degree in solo performance. I had been working with stadium high school for almost a decade. It was like all these moments. And then you weren’t just a dude that picked up a camera and told a story.


Exactly. That’s really important to understand. Yeah, exactly. Right. So I think, you know, it just was this moment where suddenly there was a new vehicle for people. And they were like, Oh,  nice. Nice. So, okay. So you’re on TikTok. At this point, are you even on Instagram or you have your tour account on Instagram?


Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, and I. I use it on every platform. So whatever I make, I put, because there’s always someone who’s like, I don’t trust TikTok or Instagram or whatever. So this is my first question. I know like in, in the real estate world, the advice is sort of like get command of one platform and maybe distribute on others, but like each platform is unique.


And so you sort of get good at one, you convert off one, and then you layer on additional platforms. Were you from day one, just like, Nope, I’m gonna make it. I’m gonna put it here, here and here and like, that’s how you do it. And that’s how you’ve always done it. Exactly. And like, when it comes to like, creating content like those, there’s different sizes, and there’s different like layers of like, faces and hearts and stuff.


Like, you just like, do you do that part where you do the layout of the videos and all that? Or do you send that off to somebody?  No, I do that one person distributing to all these platforms. That’s like, That’s wild. It’s painstaking. Okay. But, yes. Well, and my background was in video. So, it was a little easier.


Yes. So, I was prepared for it. And, luckily, the innate competition between the sites made it easier as we’ve gone through time. Like, it used to be you were only doing horizontal video work for Facebook, and then you’d have to be doing shorter form vertical content for Instagram. But now that they are worried about losing people to one platform or the other, right, even YouTube has shorts, which are vertical.


So exactly. And so literally, everything I do is distributed to the various platforms, but the same way. So you’re only doing vertical on all of those platforms now. I’m only doing short form content vertically on all those platforms. Okay. I will do long form horizontal content on both Facebook and YouTube, but I, I’m not distinguishing between the short form stuff.


Got it. Okay. So all the short form stuff goes out the same way, but you do on occasion when something is special, do a horizontal longer form version, and that goes to YouTube and Facebook, which those have horizontal. Yeah. Casings. They needed to be done their way. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Got it. So, Doug has given me the look, so I’m going to go ahead and take a little break.


Okay. All right. Here we go.  We’ll be right back.  Hi, I’m Marguerite from the Move to Tacoma podcast on channel 253. Move to Tacoma dot com is a neighborhood guide, blog, and podcast to help people in Tacoma, Pierce County, and beyond find their place in the city of destiny. For more information, visit Movetotacoma.


com. Movetotacoma! So we’re back. And I suppose I can’t ask you about how you post videos to TikTok all day. I should actually ask you what the people are probably here to hear, which is some juicy Tacoma stories. Oh yeah. You have a lot of juicy Tacoma stories. I am ever collecting juicy Tacoma stories.


Where do you find them? Oh my gosh. In the dark. Ha ha ha ha ha. Um.  Stories are hard to find and they’re real stories you mean real stories and you know, it’s, I think it’s very difficult to locate the truth. I always use the same metaphor for this because I’m a, I’m a nautical guy. Um, do you know what a running fix is?


Yeah. Yeah. Who does? Uh, there’s this thing that we used to do when we were on board ships where to figure out where you were on a chart, you would measure uh, Three different things on the shore. You’d be like, there’s a lighthouse. I know what line I’m on you’d be like Oh, there’s a mountain peak with a flasher I know what line I’m on whatever and what that would give you is three lines Where it would make a triangle and in the middle of that triangle you were somewhere  That’s history for me.


You will never find  a hundred percent accurate, reliable information anywhere. Anything that was written down could have been written down inaccurately. Everything has a bias to it.  Information changes over time. People’s accounts are unreliable, but if you take enough of those different things and you’re just looking at one moment, it’ll give you a triangle where somewhere in the middle,  The truth is,  uh, and one of the things that I, I deal with a lot, there’s a lot of really talented historians in the region here who spend a lot of time and research being like, these are the definitive answers on things.


But sometimes  a decade later, they’ll be like, actually, we found new information that suggests these are the definitive answers.  So, I just work hard to present reliable information that people can engage with.  And so, between newspapers and old photographs and rumors, somewhere you’ll find something that’s relatable. 


So what’s your favorite story?  More than anything, I’m obsessed with this ship called the Andalana.  I feel like I talk about this ship all the time, but I really love it. I’m obsessed. Oh, Doug is nodding. Doug is also into the Andalana. What’s the Andalana?  The Andalana, at face value, is this, uh, British cargo ship that was here in Tacoma in 1899.


They had a picture taken of the entire crew, which was really exceptional at the time. That’s 1899. Yeah, not a lot of cameras around. No, no. And certainly for just like, well, we’re a cargo ship now. It was never happening. No one was taking pictures like this. Uh, and then within hours of the picture being taken, the ship.


sank  into Commencement Bay. Commencement Bay itself. Into the bay. And almost everybody who was in that photograph, with one exception, was locked up inside the ship when it sank. What? And they drowned. Why would they be locked up inside the ship? Well, the ship had a reputation for being cursed. And so by the time they were here in Tacoma, it was not uncommon for the sailors to try and escape and get out of their contracts.


So Captain Stalling, in command of the vessel, was locking them up at night so that they wouldn’t escape while he was asleep. So sus.  Every single moment of this ship’s story is suspicious to me.  So the captain locks them up at night so they won’t leave, and they sail out into Commencement Bay, and the ship sinks.


Why does it sink? There’s controversy about that. The working theory is it was riding high, it didn’t have cargo or ballast in it, so it was floating ultra high, and it had an unusually tall mast,  and a freak gust. Okay. So that’s the end of the episode. and I’ll see you in the next one.  Fill with water and sink.


Totally casual, of course. Okay, so everybody dies. Yes. Except for one person. Right. Was it the captain? No. Thank goodness. No. But he had been having this reoccurring nightmare that he was going to drown on board the ship. Who did he tell? His wife. He wrote her a letter. saying that as soon as he got back to Nova Scotia, that was his final command.


He was going to retire and move back home and just be with her. So she received the letter, but not her husband, because he’s here today. The bottom of commencement bay. Yeah. Okay, so why does this intrigue you? What about this is like, what, what keeps you up at night about the, it’s not the Andalusia. What is it again?


The Lusitania is the Andalana. Andalana. Andalana.  It’s like a nativity calendar of whore.  Every time you pop open a new door, it’s just some Do you mean an advent calendar?  What do you call it? Advent calendar? Yeah, sorry, you’re clearly not Roman Catholic. No?  An advent calendar? Yeah, it’s called never mind.


Anyway, you open the little doors, you take out a chocolate of whores. That’s what you’re saying. Yeah, we’re gonna circle back to this, but, um  So, everything I find about, like at first it was just like the ship disappeared and I was like, okay, that’s weird. And they’re like, all the divers that have found it have died horrifically.


Wait, what? So, two days after it sinks, William Baldwin is a hard hat diver on contract with the railroad and he goes down, locates the ship, sets a world record for going 180 feet down. In 1899. 1899. He locates the ship. They’re like, well, close the doors, pump it full of air, we’ll float it to the surface and reuse it.


Bing, bang, boom. He’s like, no problem. Goes down two days later, and the pressurizing pump on his support ship, which had just been inspected, randomly pops a leather seal, and at 180 feet, when his suit depressurizes so quickly, it squeezes him like a bottle of toothpaste, and he goes Like the billionaires in the submarine?


Yes! Gross. Oh, so there’s a visual for you.  Um, not quite that implosive, but pretty bad. And he dies, and then the ship disappears. Nobody can find it again until the 1920s.  And when they find it in the 1920s, and that diver drowns, the ship was 80 feet higher up than the last location they reported seeing.


How could it be higher up? Yes. Like, the ground is higher? No. No. It’s Like it’s bobbing under there? It was on a ledge.  It’s a 300 foot iron hulled ship. It didn’t bob up 80 feet, but somehow it got on top of a ledge.  Okay. Controversy. Keep going. I have a working theory in my mind. But keep going. No. Keep going.


Um, but then everything else is attached with the ship, which I literally could go on for days. But at one point, um, 1900, a year after the ship has sunk and everybody on board drowns.  There’s a streetcar disaster in Tacoma. Yes. Right? Michael Sullivan talked about this on the podcast. He loves that streetcar disaster.


I mean, it’s very sad. Yeah, horrifying. How many people died? I think it was 44. It’s like the worst disaster in Tacoma’s history, right? It was the worst transportation disaster in the country at the time.  Mass casualties, 44 people, blended. As this thing goes, like the 4th of July or some, weren’t they all going to a party or something?


They were on their way to 4th of July when it jumps the tracks and rolls down the bridge.  Rolls down the hill.  One guy, an entrepreneurial carpenter at the time, took a piece of that bloody wreckage from the salvage yard and carved a scale model of the Andalana. Why? Nobody knows. Wait, what, wait, what year was this?


How many years? 1900. It was a year after it sank.  Fresh in everyone’s mind. And he’s like, Mmm, you know what pairs well with tragedy? Despair. Carves a model of it and presents it to one of the people who survived. A child. Presents it to a child who survived  the streetcar disaster.  In a little shadow box. 


And This kid keeps it, but is horrified by it, right? And then it just keeps changing hands through this, like, family network until it was discovered by the, the historical staff over at the Foss Waterway Seaport. And now they have it in their collection. Can you see it if you go there? You can.  You can, indeed.


Don’t, don’t, for the love of all that is righteous, touch it. Okay, yeah, this is not sounding good, so we’re good. Okay.  But every other piece of this ship is inescapable. Right? Everybody that tried to get off and flee, there were 16 of these sailors who when they got to Tacoma were like not worth it boss, we don’t even want to be paid, we’d rather live our lives.


Of those 16, I found that 12 died in unrelated maritime accidents in the year after the Andalana Sinks. In the year after? Mm hmm. See it if it was over the subsequent 30 years. It’s not an undangerous job, but within the year and love of 16 and one of them was on a ship that was involved in the same company and it just vanished. 


They have the record that there was another ship. Uh, in a storm near the mouth of the Columbia River, and they were signaling for help because they had kind of run aground. And so they were like, Hey, can you help us? And the other ship signaled back with their lights. They’re like, yeah, hold on. We’re just struggling in the wind.


And then they were gone. They were never seen again,  vanished.  Let me lay this on you, though.  To show you just how Intriguing the whole thing has become to me and how inescapable it is. In 1980s,  there was a woman, born and raised in Tacoma, who took a vacation to Acapulco, Mexico. And down on the beach, she found a bottle.


Buried in the sand  uncorked it and inside was a handwritten letter from a sailor on board the Andalana How do they know that they dated it? They verified the whole thing It matches the same script the same paper. They they’re like a hundred percent. This is The letter. How did they figure that out? How did they even make that connection?


She’s a she’s a Tacoma.  Yeah, yeah. And it was it was signed from Robert Laughter on board the Andalana in Tacoma, January 1899 right before the ship vanishes. Well, actually, we can get into this whole controversy later. But  and for almost 100 years, It had traveled down along the coast until it arrived in Mexico and then waited in the sand like the frickin box from Jumanji for somebody from Tacoma to come and bring it back. 


And, okay,  so where is that letter now? The letter, along with all the pieces of the Antelana that have been recovered, are in the Washington State Archives. Okay. Which are here in Tacoma. The, the history? Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. The one that, I’m sorry, that place just looks like it’s actually, um, a spy building.


Have you ever been inside? I think there, no, I haven’t. I, in my mind, there is a James Bond lair at the bottom, like that is, they don’t store stuff there. That’s government stuff, isn’t it? I don’t know. I can neither confirm nor deny what I’ve seen inside. You’ve been inside? I have. Of course. All right. Of course.


Okay. Okay. So. And Alana, is there anything else that’s just like the, that you want to make sure you say about and Alana, everybody’s going to go watch the and Alana videos now, this is super, this is a major rabbit hole, not, not to promote it too much, but our, our ghost tours, we have an old town and a downtown are both about the and Alana story, because since that ship has disappeared now, um, people keep disappearing every 10 years.


So,  Every seven to ten years, somebody is abducted and then murdered almost exactly the same way that somebody from on board that ship was.  Shut up. I know. Move to Tacoma, move to Chicano, I’m just kidding. Listen, as long as the sacrifice is fed. What?  Uh, the ship, but the ship can’t.  Here’s, here’s the other thing.


Um, we, I’ve worked with this master salvage diver in the area. This guy, Robert Mester, absolute legend. He’s intrigued by the ship. He’s the only person that I know who thinks  Might know where it is because nobody knows where it is right now I mean we can we can James Cameron that now can’t you do that with like a little AI?


Sea drone. I mean how hard can it be you would think? But nobody knows where it is and the theory that Robert has is that in the 1940s with the big earthquake? What that does is that causes the normally? So he thinks that the ship sank down into the silt, which would mean a couple things. One, it’s here forever.


Because if you ever exhumed it from its watery grave, all the toxic silt would kill commencement bay and everything living in it. But it also would mean that everything down to the skeletal remains of the crew are still intact down there,  including whatever horrifying curse is attached to that ship. Do you have any evidence that?


The ship did something bad to deserve this? Yeah. What? So, when I started looking into it, a maritime museum in Europe was like, I don’t know if this would be helpful, but here’s several years of documents written from the sailors on board the Andalana that were mailed away over the years. Would you be interested?


I was like, more than anything. Oh my God.  Um, and there’s something to suggest that after its maiden voyage onwards, people kept just messing with it until it was a fully loaded cursed chip. And like,  there are the people out there, ooh, whatever, curses. But I don’t know, if you go almost a decade where every time someone’s like, maybe this will be a bad idea and you ignore it and then everybody on board dies,  maybe there’s something to that.


So, what’s your takeaway? Is it cursed?  Were people just systematically dying in unexplainable ways?  Well, you know, I’m an unsolved mysteries girlie. You know, I read Chariots of the Gods at a way too formidable age. I love believing stuff like this. So I’m team cursed. And I’m also, everything I’ve understood about Tacoma is this was like a pretty horrible, uh, violent, uh, horrible, maybe not, but definitely violent, a little rough and tumble, maybe some shady business practices happening around every turn in the late 1800s.


It wasn’t necessarily a bastion of good choices going on. And when it comes to the, the, the every 10 years, mysterious death, I mean.  There are deaths here sometimes. We had a Ted Bundy for a while, you know, like, I mean, I could see both sides, but I think I’m team curse. I’m intrigued by this.  If it helps you, every time these murders happen, it’s always the advent of a new serial killer in the area. 


Oh, Jesus.  Are we overdue?  No, no, no, no. We’re good. When did it happen? 2021 was our last. Okay. All right. Okay. We bought a little time there. So hang in there and then take a gap year. I don’t know.  Good advice.  All right. So, okay. That was a good one. That was, that was definitely a good start. Okay.  I have heard my friend Jenny Jacobs has also elute has taken your ghost tour and I met Jenny because we were both co working in the Hewitt building in suite 133,  which is where exit 133 was back in the day.


This is where this is going.  And she was, uh, so the, the notoriously the top floor of the Hewitt building is an unrestored brothel and everybody that worked in the building at one point or another, we found our way up there to check it out. And it’s creepy as heck. And so she was talking about your tour and she’s like, you know, Chris’s tour is actually really good.


She was going on and on and on about it. I’m like, well, we know everything about what happened in the Hewitt building. And she was like, no.  No, we do not. And then she did this like whole performance of your tour. And I was so creeped out. I’m just sitting in her living room and it creeped me out. So, um, do you want to do a mini tour of the, so you see, it was like in front of the Hewitt building.


She says, you have a lantern.  What happens?  Our, our downtown tour. I think the part that’s always fascinating to people is how much.  of that area had been occupied by, uh, random and organized crime over the years. Not a lot of people know about the organized crime activity in Tacoma through the 1920s and 30s. 


And if we’re being realistic, beyond, uh, our Prohibition era smuggling was really prolific in the area. And then also, you know, the thing people always ask about are the, the tunnels and what was going on with those. And for the, to circle back to your, your prostitution question. I mean, is that just, I mean, it doesn’t, it could, it doesn’t have to just be about the prostitutes.


There was a whole contingent of those downtown buildings, like the Hewitt, that operated pretty aggressively as brothels from like the 1800s  until  1951. Wow. Yeah. A lot of that didn’t get shut down until there was a big vice raid in the 50s where they’re like, we’re a clean city now.  How’s that going for you, Tacoma? 


Ups and downs, peaks and valleys, peaks and valleys. Yeah.  Very interesting. Yeah. So, okay. So, how often do you do these tours? If someone’s like, okay, say no more. I want the Old Town Tour. I want the Downtown Tour. Like, is this something you do every quarter? Every month? Every week? Every week. Every Friday.


Every week? Every Friday and Saturday we run our Ghost Tours. And what time does it start? The 7. 30 and the 9. 15. Oh, there’s a 9. 15? Yeah. Dang, and it’s all ages? It is, as a matter of fact. Okay, so if you’re not 21 yet, you can’t hit da club, you can also do a ghost tour at 930 on a Saturday. Yeah, 100%. Or Friday, sorry.


Well, Friday or Saturday. Friday or Saturday. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And if somebody wanted to sign up for the tour, they go to PrettyGrittyTours. com. That’s Very easy to remember. Yeah, we try and make it. Also, uh, because everybody always gets us confused with nitty gritty tours. There’s a nitty gritty tours? Nope, but for some reason people just love to say nitty gritty tours.


Did you just buy the URL and redirect? Of course, yeah. Okay, good. Alright, so it also works. Yeah, it’s, yeah. Well done. Yeah, thank you.  Uh, I, I know where we need to be. That’s so interesting. So okay. So what, what is the future of this? Like how long you’ve been doing it now for eight years, eight years, eight years in May.


I mean, from the outside looking in, it seems like you have a pretty thing, good thing going, but I know like on the back end of a business, like things can be complicated. Like how do you sustain it and how do you grow it? Do you grow it? Is it perfect as it is? No, we have room for growth. And I think that’s something that we’re expanding into this year.


Oh yeah? And it’s a double pronged fork. The first thing that we’ve experimented with that I’d like to do more of is, I have this amazing author named Ira, who has written a bunch of books about maritime tragedies and ghosts, and he works down in Olympia.  our kind of Olympia branch of Ghost Tours down there.


And so that’s, he’s part of the Pretty Gritty family. We facilitate and support and market him, but he is doing his tour down there. I’m looking to expand that into the Tri Cities and Spokane and Leavenworth and Seattle and go beyond there. That is awesome.  You’re going to have a tour empire. That’s the dream.


The whole Pacific Northwest. Could you do Astoria? Because I’m obsessed with Astoria. Of course. Did you read that book by Peter Stark? Yes. I don’t even read those kinds of books, and I’m obsessed with Astoria since I read that. But did you read it, Doug? You know, Doug didn’t. Give yourself that present, Doug. 


Obviously Astoria and Port Townsend and Port Gamble are all coming up on the list as well. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. All right. Sorry. I know you have it. You already have a business plan. You don’t need to add cities. No, but no, no, no, no, no. But I do is the thing. I just feel like Astoria, it’s like a dusty diamond like Tacoma.


Like when I go there, I feel completely at home. And that’s the, that’s the thing. I want people to have access. The whole dream to this is. With, like, starting with Tacoma and now beyond is that I want people to feel that sense of ownership in their own city. So that when they’re walking around or they have people who visit them, that they are like, Well, actually, I can tell you this thing about it.


And it’s, it was rare to have that. And I feel like specifically with Tacoma, which has a tendency to get a bad reputation from a lot of outsiders, I really wanted people to be armed. With some interesting information when they like I’m gonna tell him about how cursed Tacoma is so they stopped talking about how it smells Listen, everybody loves a ghost story.


If you’re gonna teach somebody history you wrap it in a ghost story. Very true. So  But the other thing I would love to do more is  I don’t even know if I want to list his performance based stuff But I’ve been doing more of the like make a minimins history pub  Yeah. You just did that this week. Yeah. Yeah.


I would love to take that to the next level and start doing more of these edutainment experiences on stages around the Pacific Northwest. So kind of like when, like, This American Life goes on tour and they, like, do the podcast on the stage. That kind of thing. Yeah. Exactly like that. So, I, I think a lot of my stuff fits more into like the solo performance slot, and then you learn about a topic while you’re there. 


So, what’s the barrier to that? Is there a barrier? Is it just your time? Is it like Time, oh man, yeah. Yeah, I can imagine. If I had like a booking agent I don’t know if there’s any booking agents out there. I was just gonna say, how can we help you, Chris? What are you looking for? That would be, that would be great.


And then I could experiment it, with it. And like, it’s gone well previously, but I, I don’t know. I’ve never seen that  happen here yet. If that makes sense. So do you have like a dream venue? Like you’ll know you’ve made it when you have like your one man show at Oh man, I,  no. You’re like absolutely. Actually I know I don’t 


No. Every venue is my dream venue. . I love to hear it. Do you have a Mount Everest for like your slow growing empire? Your, your. Your ever expanding empire, like, is there something that you’re like, you know, this is the dream? Ambition is a sand castle.  It never is done. Ain’t it the truth. Right? I, I don’t know.


I, I’ll never be,  uh, I’ll, I’ve, I’ve never reached a point in my life where I was like, well, I’ve done it. I’m ready to close up shop. You know what I mean? It’s more like you’re seeing where it goes. Yeah. You, you can kind of see the general direction. And, and I will just keep following that invisible trail until I can’t anymore, I suppose. 


Well, if you’re willing, I would love to ask, uh, on behalf of All of the people in Tacoma that have to use the internet for their jobs, like, I’m so curious, you know, I’ve had moved to Tacoma since 2015 and, you know, to varying degrees have, have used the socials as, as part of my, my prospecting strategy, obviously I like to find people relocating to Tacoma.


I like to get in front of them at an early stage, you know, that’s my job. Um, and I watch you and I just feel like you’re, you’re operating at a very. high level. And even just when you say like, Oh, yeah, I distribute, you know, four vertical videos to horizontal videos. Like, yeah, I do it myself. Like, to me, that’s like, that’s wow, because of the it’s not that there aren’t people doing that kind of volume, but like, the quality of what you do is very good.


And so I imagine other people like, you know, Chris was saying, like, I don’t,  you, you are Chris, but you just came in right after Chris Miller from the red hot was here. And he was saying, you know, I’m a desk jockey. Now I run a hot dog bar, but like, yeah. Yeah. I’m on social media. That’s what I do for my job now.


And so, like, even, even owning a bar, you’re doing what you do to some degree. Right. So, like, what advice do you have for people in Tacoma who are, like, entering into the sort of online ecosystem, like,  peddling their wares?  Uh, wow. I guess I would always recommend this. Not that I’m an expert, but I would say Be honest in your creation, you know, whatever it is that you do, if you’re trying to communicate it to people, don’t feel like you have to model somebody else’s style or pacing or anything.


Just, uh, be very sincere. Always keep things conversational when you’re working on your social media. Whether you’re doing text and pictures, or if you’re doing on camera video stuff, just make it very Honest. I feel like people can tell honesty  more than anything else. Yeah. The other key to the whole thing is be brief. 


I was worried you were gonna say that.  . . I always, especially because I’m so interested in topics, uh, I was, yeah, I feel like you could talk for an hour, right? I could. Yeah. And you have to talk for 15 seconds. I mean, what, when, when you say brief, do you mean 15? Do you mean 30? Do you mean 60? What do you mean?


I always, uh, if I can aim for 60, that’s what I do. I, I tend to run like two minutes these days, but I say, just find the thing and you can test it. Like you, if you want to be sneaky, go test it. Find people that are not your best friends and try and talk to them about something. And when you watch the lights go off in their eyes, you know, you’ve lost them, right? 


That’s your time limit on your topic. And are you talking about, like, a hook? Like, do you, when you say, do you lead with the most interesting part?  Yee, yes. Yes. Uh, I take my information, and let’s say I’ll write it down. I’ll be like, I want to talk about the Andalana. And then I’ll put it all down. I’ll be like, oh my god, that’s 16 pages.


So then you just find the stuff that you can’t. Live without. The most interesting thing. You edit it down. There was a shipwreck in Tacoma. Everybody died. That’s interesting. There you go. And then You don’t start with the lady in Acapulco. No. You can’t. Even though that’s interesting. It is.  And maybe you can weave it back in later, but you got to start with the most important stuff because usually you’ll only get that 10 seconds. 


So how does that apply to like the business side? And one other thing I’m noticing, I’m thinking about this now, you don’t really have a call to action in your videos. You don’t start your videos with, Hey guys, it’s Chris from Pretty Greeny Tours. And you don’t end your videos with, So anyways, you should really come take a tour with me down on Pacific Avenue.


Go to prettygreenytours. com You never do that, do you? I know. No, no. So how, how does it work? I can hear people out there who start their videos with Hey guys, and end them with a call to action. Going, well how do you make any money, Chris? I I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this here, but like a drug dealer, no, this is, this is exactly what we want to know.


Uh, the first taste is free. I continuously just give away my best products. I just give away information about the region for free and now people want more. So they come on the tours.  Okay. So I’m imagining, okay, I’m a business owner. I’m going to give away my goodies for free. So then the peril becomes like, is what, back to what you were saying at the beginning, like, is it honest?


Is it verified? Right. Right. Are you just trying to like, find something sensational to, to get the views or whatever? Like, do you have any advice in that direction about, have you ever?  I guess I’m sorry. I’m rambling a little. Have you ever shared something and then gotten some feedback and been like, Oh  crap, that was not right.


Oh, oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, well, a great example was I was recently talking about the Croatian immigration. Oh, I saw that one come through my feed, the church in the South end. I misidentified a church as a. Slovenian church, but it’s a Slovakian church. Can you imagine?  And, and I feel like that would be very easy to do and possibly offensive to the people that it’s referring to.


Yeah, no, and it was, it was totally my bad. I, I misread it when I was going through the research on that. And people, to their credit, very quickly were like, Hey, I don’t want to like, make you look like you’re a, a total douchebag. But, um, your information was wrong. And I was like, I thank you so much for letting me know.


And so I printed a correction. That will happen. Sometimes I put out the wrong information and then I immediately come back with the right information.  Because people are very quick to freely educate you. Yeah. And I mean, you know, it’s funny because like, I have people that say mean things on the internet and sometimes it hurts my feelings and sometimes it doesn’t.


But, you know, paradoxically, I’m also a person who sometimes says mean things on the internet. Like, I’m not too good to call somebody out when I see some crap. So like, I kind of feel like I’m paying my dues and I’m getting what I give. But like, what is your sort of philosophy about that? Like, if you’re going to ever make anything, people are going to have something to say about it.


How do you, I mean, it doesn’t sound like you’re particularly worried or self conscious about that.  No, I, you don’t cry. No, no, no, no. I never lose sleep at all. If somebody is. Mean online  because you can just ban them,  you know, like if somebody comes if somebody rolls in and they’re like, hey You douche nozzle you and then I just they’re banned.


Whatever. I’m not I’m not In public office. I don’t have to listen to people. Yeah, if I don’t like your flavor, I’ll just ban you from the page You don’t get access to my free wonder. That’s fine  But if somebody is genuinely like hey your information was incorrect, that’s entirely different. Yeah, then I’m like, oh Oh my God, 100%.


I would like to ensure the quality of what I’m doing. Thank you for letting me know and I’ll, I’ll do better.  There’s a difference between informing someone that their content was incorrect and just being like, I’m so mad about life. Yeah. And I have no tolerance for the second one. Wow. That is very good advice. 


Yeah. And.  Also, people  are overwhelmingly delightful. Like there’s, there’s a thick layer of salty grime on the bucket of humanity, but most of it’s pretty good. Yeah, you really have to focus on the good people and make stuff for the good people. Yeah, and then just, um, just ban the others. And, you know what’s really Helpful advice,  find your  catcher in the rye, find your, your buddy who’s willing to listen to you when you just need to really yell about the scum of humanity and never put it online.


Never talk to anybody else about it. Yeah. Never. Your release valve. Never let it go out. Like if someone, I’ve had some people previously who’ve really just wanted to like troll my pudding and I’m like. Oh my gosh, you’re so annoying, but then I just ban him and then I go to my my buddy and I’m like, hey  Could you believe this I talk about it for five minutes, then I keep living my life.


You’re not making videos about it No, no, never ever give them the satisfaction of Promoting them with your platform. Hmm. Let them  Die in anonymity.  I hope everyone’s listening to this.  You know, um, and, and then continuously the other thing that I’ve really enjoyed is just, um,  supporting the people that I think are doing well.


Yeah. One of the things I love about Tacoma content creators, yourself included, is that it’s such a great community and we seem to all Really be open to supporting one another. Yeah, lean into that keep that small town thing going Yeah, you know the people that want to whine about whatever won’t last forever.


So just uh  keep your crew tight  All right before we go. I’m gonna ask you who is Who’s your favorite follow right now? Who is my favorite? In Tacoma. That I follow? Yeah, like is there anybody that you’re like, Mmm, this is the one I look forward to when it pops up. Cause I think you’re probably a lot of people’s favorite follow.


So who, who, who, who does the follow, the followed follow? Uh, okay. I’ve got  three answers, but I’ll keep them brief. Okay. For just overall quality of content. I’m always Grit City Magazine. Beautiful stuff. I fanboy them so hard. Everything that they do is just rich. Um, for just like,  um, inspirational stuff, I always follow Kwabi from the Peace Bus.


Oh yes, of course. I love watching everything he does. And if I’m being 100 percent honest with you, I I am just obsessed with the life work and overall aura of Tawana Nobles. Mmm. I was Tawana stan. Man, so hard. To the point where, at one point, I was working on a project about, um, black heritage in the hilltop area, and I reached out to an organization there, and it was Tawana.


at the time who was president and she, yeah, and she, she emailed me back directly and I couldn’t respond. I was like, Oh my God,  cause she’s like, she’s doing the most in this area across the board. Okay. These are, we will put all of these people in the show notes so that you can see Chris’s faves. Thank you so much for coming.


I have like 500 more questions. So maybe I’ll try to get you to come back at Halloween and. Scare the crap out of us. There’s some good stuff for this area. Okay, okay. I’ll hit you up. Oh, thank you so much. Thank you.  If you like this podcast, check out Movetotacoma.  com. Movetotacoma. com is a neighborhood guide, blog, and podcast to help people in Tacoma, Pierce County, and beyond find their place in the city of destiny.


More information. At Movetotacoma. com.  I’m like, when’s the launch party? Where’s the kickstarter? I don’t know, we’re looking for that. Don’t pressure him. I don’t know, he’s so You know, this is how I think, by the way. She’s so difficult for me. Listen, I’m like, What’s the ROI, Doug?  Movetotacoma is part of the Channel 253 podcast network.


Check out our other shows. Grit and Grain, Nerdfarmer, Interchangeable White Ladies, Crossing Division, Citizen Tacoma, What Say You, We Are Tacoma, Flounder’s Bee Team, and Taco Man. This is Channel 253. 


Show Notes

Pretty Gritty Tours is not JUST the most popular tour company in Tacoma, Washington. Pretty Gritty Tours (and its creator Chris Staudinger) are one of the most entertaining accounts about Tacoma on social media. From Tiktok, to YouTube, to Instagram and Facebook- Chris finds stories from Tacoma's past and shares them with us in a way that is entertaining and enlightening.

What is Pretty Gritty Tours?

Pretty Gritty Tours offers the best education, experiences, and tours in Tacoma, Washington. Pretty Gritty Tours was founded in 2016 by Chris Staudinger and Tawny Clark. They lead Ghost Tours of Downtown Tacoma every weekend, and have tons of other tours they offer to individuals and groups that are curious to learn more about Tacoma and it's lost stories. In this episode of the Move to Tacoma Podcast Chris shares with host Marguerite Martin how the pandemic catapulted Pretty Gritty Tours from a small local tour company into a full on social media sensation. He also talks about Moving to Tacoma to attend PLU, traveling the world with his wife as a travel journalist, and returning to Tacoma to live in the College Park Neighborhood of the North End (AKA UPS Neighborhood).

Tacoma's History and Stories

Chris shares about how he finds the stories and historic information that he features in his tours and on his social media channels. He shares one of his favorite Tacoma stories, about the Andelana, a merchant vessel that sank in Commencement Bay in the late 1800's and all the spooky stories surrounding it.