WHEN BETH FELL gave my band the opportunity to play a gig amongst the flashing video games and Atari T-shirts at the Hi*Score Arcade, I didn't realize how lucky we were. It's not just that Fell is picky and turns away a lot of bands, but we were getting the chance to be a part of a blossoming Capitol Hill attraction that's not likely to be around much longer. The Hi*Score, previously Penny & Perk, is losing its space to new market rate rentals.

Fell, 31, the punk rock co-owner of the Capitol Hill arcade and makeshift all-ages club, is a small business avenger who breathes pop culture (pinball machines, Farrah Fawcett action figures, graffiti art) into a city that seems to be barreling toward yuppiedom. She has an excellent reactionary attitude toward '90s technology. For instance, she doesn't allow cell phones in the arcade. "It's supposed to be like the '80s in here," she explains. "No one used cell phones in the '80s."

While most of Seattle is exploring its inner suburbia, Fell is fighting the good fight. She has lent space in her shop to crusaders for the poster ban repeal, and along with other local retailers, started the Merchants of Pike-Pine, who -- through the neighborhood planning process -- tried to protect the "funky" and "kind of scary" character of the business core.

But the Chicago transplant says the neighborhood's not so cool anymore. She and co-owner Zach Orgel are getting kicked out of their spot at 612 East Pine Street, so the landlord, Heath Properties, can build apartments. After three months of looking at retail spaces like the former Studio 420 and Retrospect Records, Fell has found prices are way too high. She has 10 months left on her lease. That's less than a year for Capitol Hill property owners to give her a reason not to move to Tacoma.