Best Local Shopping in 2011

The Seattle products and boutiques we couldn't stay away from this year.
Charming wares from Butter Home in Capitol Hill

Best New Home and Gift Shop: Butter Home

The sentiment “Go to your happy place” became a physical, rather than mental, destination after the arrival of sweet charmer Butter Home last December. Tucked under the rafters in the new Melrose Market, gifts and wares range from the eclectic (felted gazelle-head taxidermy-like wall hangings!) to the sweet and utterly irresistible, such as locally made jewels from Dorothy Cheng, recycled glass terrariums and sachet key chains filled with herbs (or maybe just happiness). Capitol Hill, 1531 Melrose Ave., Suite C2, mezzanine; 206.623.2626;

Shopkeeper of the Year: Ruth True of NuBe Green

Ruth True has long held the reputation as a tastemaker in the local arts community, but since opening NuBe Green on Capitol Hill two years ago, she has proven that her unmatched ability for ferreting out uniquely crafted creations extends to retail as well. As we’ve geeked out over the year’s new local finds—such as rising home-interior stars Graypants Inc.’s rustic reclaimed tables and Free Time Industries’ woodsy, leather Chain Gang necklaces—the common thread among all is their home at NuBe. And don’t forget the other feathers in True’s cap: In addition to a new tableware rental service, she launched two exclusive in-house lines this year, a new mod furnishings collection and the überpopular alpaca clothing line crafted specifically for her glorious boutique. Capitol Hill, 921 E Pine St.; 206.402.4515;

Best Neighborhood for Vintage Shopping: Fremont

In the year 2004 AD, Fremont reigned supreme for vintage shopping, thanks to standbys like Private Screening and Fritzi Ritz, and then, in 2007, Susie Q’s Closet. But dark days loomed as the three closed, and vintage fiends turned their attention to Capitol Hill. Fast-forward to modern day, and the sky is lighter: Hill haunt Atlas moved back home to a wing at Fremont Vintage Mall (3419 Fremont Place N; 206.548.9140) last summer, and former Susie Q owner Suzie Jarvis came back to the ’hood to open up her Western wear, cowgirl boots and accessory shop, Vintage Angel Company (3519-B Fremont Place N; 206.501.8957; Add Deluxe Junk (3518 Fremont Place N; 206.634.2733) and Show Pony’s (702 N 35th St.; 206.706.4188; second-floor vintage consignment to the tally, and the Center of the Universe is the new neighborhood for shopping vintage (again).

Best Funky Barware: JaxJoon

This year, husband-and-wife team Jenny and Jake Monroe gave birth to a boy—in a manner of speaking. Just down the street from their Ballard Avenue women’s boutique, Damsalfly, you’ll find everything for the fellas—derby hats, blazers, kitschy throw pillows and other props for the bachelor pad—at newly minted JaxJoon. But it is Jake’s passion for barware that caught our eye; he crafts retro/modern bars to order, and the shop also carries an array of vintage cocktail glasses and hardware to go alongside. Ballard, 5346 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.789.8777


Best Modern-day Apothecary: Sugar Pill

It’s like a petting zoo for foodies: Tucked behind the sliding glass doors of a behemoth apothecary cabinet from Thailand, dozens of fragrant cooking salts, sugars, cocktail bitters (and even ye ol’ cold remedy or two) sit ready to be sampled at the new Sugar Pill apothecary, which opened in February. Complemented by a stock of natural vitamins and sweetly scented soaps, owner and herbalist Karyn Schwartz’s by-the-ounce spices please exotic palates; salts range from spicy Cyprus crystals, pink Himalayan cooking salts and two different smoked-salt options to decadent black truffle salts and Thai-ginger-infused seasoning. Capitol Hill, 900 E Pine St.; 206.322.7455;

Best Biking Accessory: Wooly Bison Backpack

Spandex and fleece be damned: The era of the fashionable biker has dawned, and new local bicycle-savvy accessories are cycling in, including our fave find, Ingrid Rowe’s Northwesterly Etsy gem Wooly Bison waxed canvas backpack. Lined with vintage striped cotton, the backpack has a tough waxy exterior that’s rainproof (do we have to explain why that’s a perk?), and the comfy, snug straps stay put even through the nastiest pothole mishaps.

Best Paper Goods Store: Pike Street Press

Paper philes that we are, we have a megacrush on new Pike Street Press, a bustling all-in-one letterpress design studio, custom-print shop and gallery tucked under the Pike Place Market Hillclimb. Owner Sean Brown prints custom invitations and handcrafted items on the behemoth letterpress in his open workshop, while coaster sets and beautiful bookmarks are spread out on a rustic worktable, and local art hangs on clotheslines along the walls. downtown waterfront, 1510 Alaskan Way; 206.971.0120;

Best News for Brides: Luly Yang Couture’s Blue and Diamond Lines

Capping off her 10th year in business, Luly Yang, the city’s premier bridal gown couturier launched two new bridal gown lines this year, Luly Blue and Luly Yang Diamond, which bridge the gap between ready to wear and high fashion. The ethereal, oh-so-Luly gowns have a very un-couture price tag (Blue begins at $1,500; Diamond gowns range from $3,000 to $7,500) and can be ready in as little as three months, bringing more Luly to the grateful masses. fairmont olympic hotel downtown, 1218 fourth ave.; 206.623.8200;