I asked a friend what she wanted to know about Tacoma's history. She flat out said more on the B & I. While I agree with her that there should be more history on the B & I, it is freaking hard as hell to find. The B & I doesn't even have a website, the best you can do is a Yellow Pages page. There isn't even a Wikipedia page on it.
I've managed to find a flickr account of someone who took a trip through the B & I. When I was younger, the place had some drug and gang problems, but I suppose now a days it's just dead.
Here you can see what the B & I use to look like. Now let's see what it looks like now.
If you look through that account, you will find that Burt Ward has even visited the B & I!
I should add that the B & I didn't just have apes, they also had an elephant named Sammy and various wild cats. When I was a kid, they had the saddest pet store, and they might still have the worlds saddest pet store.
Also, here is a painting Ivan did and some video of him hanging.
I seriously can not find anything else about the B & I. The only other way for me to find more information is to either go to the B & I and look at their personal pictures and history boards, or go to the Tacoma library's Northwest room and look through hundreds of news paper articles. Or make The News Tribune get off their asses and scan their archival newspapers onto the internet.
Now, for some personal memories. As I said, I remember seeing Ivan while he was at the B & I as a kid. I also recall that during the 1990's it was heavy with gangs and drug activity. I suspect, though my memory could be faulty, that there has been one or two murders at the B & I.
Don't let that scare you, from everything I can find about the B & I now is that it's an empty ghost town. There are still shops, and their merchandise may or may not be from the back of a truck.
Do you like games? Do you like arcades that are straight from the 1980's? Well, the B & I has that!
http://www.mikeysfunland.com/ I found that!
To show you how old the B & I is, here is their myspace page. Seriously, myspace.
Here is 10 minutes and 20 seconds of a guy wandering around and complaining at the B & I arcade. I only add it because, seriously, the machines in this video are some of the machines I PLAYED. Or at least the same games, different machines.
I have scraped every corner of the internet for information on the B & I. It's not here, it's at the B & I. I have found one last thing though, this.
Hang onto your crazy hats. This was created in 1956. You see, President Eisenhower visited Tacoma in October of 1956 and Earl Irwin (the I in the B & I) wanted to have a picture of the president driving past his store. Sadly this did not happen because of security concerns, the president didn't drive by the B & I on his way to McChord airforce base. So Irwin PAID Richards Studio to make this. I like to think that Irwin wanted to make it look like the president was swerving out of the way of a crowd of people, but... I honestly doubt it.