September 2012

Best Neighborhood Shops

From consignment stores to jewel-box boutiques, shoe scores and beauty steals, we've rounded up the 15 best Seattle neighborhoods for shopping, complete with turn-by-turn directions and secret parking tips.

From this Issue

Three cheers for fall, when Seattleites switch gears—from soaking up every inch of summer possible to gorging on our city’s amazing wealth of arts offerings. This year promises to be no different, with so many excellent chances to experience dance, film, music, theater and visual arts that, frankly, we’re already worried about having to make some hard choices.

Why, in 2012, do we need an exhibit focused solely on women artists? Try this: Make a quick tally of the names you’d expect to find on a list of the most important visual artists of the 20th century. Picasso, Matisse, Duchamp, Monet, Hopper, Pollock, Warhol…all these come to mind so easily (and need only be noted by last names!).

Although ensconced in NYC since the 1970s, Mark Morris must still think fondly of his old stomping grounds—the former Seattleite and superstar choreographer is presenting two different world premieres on two different local stages this fall. First up, at On the Boards (10/4–10/6. 8 p.m. Prices vary.

Created from renovated farm and mining buildings in downtown Issaquah, Gilman Village (317 NW Gilman Blvd., just east off I-90’s exit 17) is celebrating its 40th birthday with a roster of new shops and outdoor hangout spots nestled amongst the wooden boardwalks, charming pergolas and classic haunts, such as sweet toy store White Horse Toys (425.391.149

Bill Predmore’s street art collection started with a Shepard Fairey print, gifted to him by an employee long before the iconic Obama “Hope” poster skyrocketed the artist into ubiquity.

My husband grew up in New York City, but wanted to escape what he calls “the hustle.” Though I was born in Washington, I grew up in suburban Racine, Wisconsin, and longed for city life.

For decades, Pier 57 owner Hal Griffith dreamed of building a Ferris wheel at the end of the historic landing. Now, after 30 years, he’s putting his money where his dreams are—and he says the time couldn’t be better; he fears the waterfront is in real peril, thanks to the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement.

It’s not that people didn’t want to watch The State of the Prostate (Parts 1, 2 & 3) or Clearing up Controversies in Ankle Fracture Management. It’s just that that’s not all they wanted to watch when they tuned in years ago to Channel 27, the University of Washington’s noncommercial, educational TV station.

As summer lingers, September might be the best month of all to be out on the water, and nowhere is better than Seattle for beginner sailors to get under way. Around here, there are so many sailboat rental options, it’s easy to hoist a mainsail, heel out and head up into the wind (see glossary below).

Top row, left to right: “Fremont Bridge” brass-etched and oxidized cuff with triangle design, by Portland-based Betsy & Iya ($72, available at Retail Therapy on Capitol Hill or

Clockwise from top: Luly Yang bright chartreuse green silk satin and lambskin suede T-strap sandals with detachable fur pouf shoe clip (available separately for $150), $650 at Luly Yang Couture downtown.

Clockwise from top left: Coral “Bombshell” zigzag chevron-print clutch with detachable turquoise felt-flower pin, nickel frame, ball clasp and contrasting polka dot-print lining, by Angela Huse of Edmonds-based Angela Kay Designs ($48, available at

During her years working alongside designer Luly Yang, Lina Zeineddine, then 19, kept a personal sketchbook, doodling design ideas during spare moments.

Michael Cepress wears many artistic hats: The Capitol Hill-based, 30-something designer is well-known for his dapper and tailored men’s wear designs, a sublime talent he juggles with costume design, teaching fashion courses at the University of Washington and curating fashion exhibitions. Now he’s adding women’s wear designer to his résumé.

Tangletown-based jewelry artist Moorea Seal first viewed art on a grand scale as an artist’s assistant to Seattle sculptor John Grade, helping to craft his large-scale installations. But in 2010, the Seattle Pacific University graduate began packing big, geometric sculptures into a petite form: jewelry.

Timeless looks you can wear to the office or on weekend outings are the stuff of (1) Juniper, a classy boutique tucked into a storefront across from the Madrona Playground on E Spring Street.

Entering the Melrose Market—a multipurpose indoor space on Melrose Avenue that houses Rain Shadow Meats, The Calf & Kid cheese shop and floral boutique Marigold and Mint—is like stepping into the beating heart of what defines Northwest refinement right now.

Stroll south down Western Avenue below Pike Place Market; once you hit University Street, you’ll find the first gold mine, (1) Liave, stocked with carefully chosen European home décor.

Start at Main Street and Sixth and walk down to Jackson Street for two of the most stimulating spots in Japantown: (1) Kobo at Higo, a former Japanese variety store turned artisan gallery that spotlights Japanese and Northwest design.

Start on Fremont Place North and Lenin (that would be the statue, not a street) and head southeast a block to embrace your saucy side at (1) Bellefleur, Jennifer Manuel Carroll’s charming lingerie boutique.

Starting at the east end of the strip, at Ballard Avenue and 20th, first pop into (1) Monster Art and Clothing, a trove for quirky oddities, such as a bronze meat-cleaver necklace, spirited toe socks or a hand-printed octopus shirt.

While we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair, which was hitting its peak-season stride in September 1962, another anniversary is running through my mind.

People living in Bellingham have a pretty forgiving attitude toward the trains that rumble through town. The shrill whistles, the squeal of wheels, the waits at crossings—that’s just part of life in this laid-back college town. But now something else is roaring down the tracks, and it has the town’s full attention.

A master’s degree in civil engineering isn’t a prerequisite for becoming Washington state poet laureate, but it does tend to make for a unique perspective. Kathleen Flenniken, who began her two-year term as poet laureate in February, lives in View Ridge, but grew up in Richland, the daughter of a chemist who spent his career at Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

When Cuong Vu plays trumpet, it can sound like he’s underwater, or facing gale force winds or maybe contacting us from another dimension. The unique sounds he gets out of the horn range from spooky to sputtering—long, haunting notes that waver like seagrass, and staccato runs that leap off the standard scale, becoming syncopated gusts of breath and spit.

A set designer’s job is about overcoming a series of paradoxes: First, transform a familiar room into a completely new universe, without blowing the budget. Second, reconcile thematic relevance with physical limitations (and hurry up already). Finally, create something that both surprises the audience and feels totally appropriate within the context of the play.

If you’ve seen any recent indie films set in Seattle, you’ve likely watched them through Ben Kasulke’s eyes. The cinematographer has been behind the camera on an astonishing number of local movies of note, including major success stories such as Lynn Shelton’s Your Sister’s Sister, Colin Trevorrow’s Safety Not Guaranteed and Megan Griffiths’ The Off Hours.

At the Capitol Hill Block Party in July, musicians on the main stage had special accompaniment: a tiger, a dragon and several lime green, bat-like imps. The creatures, drawn in a vivid folk style and emblazoned on 23-foot-tall scrims flanking the stage, added a bit of reverence and danger to the proceedings—an aura of myth that hinted at age-old knowledge.

The line: “I focus on using bold prints, colors and design details to bring a fun twist to dresses that have classic silhouettes,” says the Seattle Central graduate, who adds playful touches with darling bustier tops accented with vintage coral buttons, dainty peplum designs and demure open back accents.

The line: The Capitol Hill-based designer’s line is synonymous with tomboy chic, focused on relaxed separates that pair sand-washed silk charmeuse tops with silk/wool twill bottoms. In addition to the aesthetic appeal, the line’s renegade attitude harks to a historical moment in women’s wear. “Pants at one point were liberating,” Kelly says.

The line: Formerly a women’s wear and accessories designer at Nordstrom before opening her Frock Shop boutique in 2006, Fairchild lets both the pattern and originating era of the fabric breathe life into her exceedingly wearable skirts and girly yet refined day dresses (often offered for less than $125).

The line: Czerwiec unconventionally combines print, color and texture to create a strong sense of personality and promote a lifestyle anchored in creativity.

The line: The Central District-based designer (who works for a Ballard biking pannier company by day) describes her line as “urban cycling clothing for the professional woman,” as seen in garments like a violet pencil skirt that unzips on the sides to give more leg room to pedal.

The line: The Ballard-based designer, who also holds a master’s degree in urban planning, uses one word to sum up her debut line, “edited.” It’s a well-chosen adjective: Roby’s jackets contain simple yet strong details such as cowl pockets or shoulders, leather collar work to accent her copper wool duster and the dramatically flared tuxedo coat with a nipped waist.

The line: “I want my line to be timeless, but almost separate from ‘fashion’ per se, which can tend to revolve around trends and seasons,” says Chaney of her creatively crafted scarf frocks with sly peekaboo panels and asymmetrical hemming, cozy crochet sweaters and avant-garde coats made from army surplus wool blankets.

It’s mighty difficult to get your head around the massive Columbia Valley. While the newest American Viticultural Area wine-growing regions (AVAs) seem to effortlessly grab attention—get a load of the sexy sandy loam high up on Naches Heights!—Washington state’s largest grape-growing region often gets left out of the discussion of what’s hot.

Reclaimed wood and tall ceilings, guitar rock playing loudly, an absolutely stellar beer list, a crowd made up almost entirely of men and, of course, sausages galore: The Wurst Place is South Lake Union’s undisputed man cave.

A couple of doors down from Georgetown icon Jules Maes, the new Mexican eatery Fonda La Catrina makes its home in two plate-glass-windowed storefronts. Inside, stools at tall wood counters face busy Airport Way, offering first-class people watching; a smattering of tables draw families (during early dinnertime) and a wide range of locals.

White stucco, arched doorways and airy interiors accented with wood: Café Munir is a sophisticated oasis tucked away in north Ballard near Larsen’s Danish Bakery. Here, the flavors of Lebanon—lemon and feta, lamb and oregano—work their magic when tucked into pliant flatbread served warm and fragrant.

Ask a local if he or she has been to Ray’s Boathouse and you’re likely to hear a resounding “Of course!” followed by enthusiastic recollections of that time they went in high summer and sat out on the sprawling, glass-wrapped deck, salty wind in their hair, Puget Sound in all its sailboat-in-the-setting-sun glory at their feet. “Wait, did you mean downstairs?

It turns out that my fond memories of McDonald’s Egg McMuffins, usually enjoyed in the backseat of my parents’ wood-sided station wagon while on road trips, don’t make McMuffins eaten now, as an adult, any less disappointing. Some things are best left as nostalgic taste snapshots, I guess.

Consignment hounds, this designer enclave is well worth the S.R.

Begin on Main Street, the historical pocket of downtown just south of Bellevue Square, which harks back to the area’s days as a sleepy Seattle suburb, where an independent spirit lives on along a pleasant promenade of unique boutiques and restaurants.

Echoing the glitzy sleekness of the neighborhood itself is SLU’s hub of mod home décor shops, ranging from the locally owned Inform Interiors (now located in a larger location at Dexter Avenue N and Thomas Street), with its wide array of funky chairs, stools and metal tables, to the much ballyhooed

Sure, in days gone by, Queen Anne had more bustle (see: departures of the Teacup, Oslo’s and Skookum), but this petite charmer still has appeal.

From holidays to graduations, the shops sprinkled in U Village and surrounding area have your back year around.

The first stop in the Madison Valley is, hands down, the best place in the neighborhood for an amazing deal.

Start small on your stroll on the hill with a stop in (1) Bootyland, a neighborhood mainstay for kids’ clothing that is devotedly fair trade, organic and sweatshop free, not to mention a reliable source of baby band tees for $26.95. (Who doesn’t know a 16-month-old Devo fan?)

A visit to (1) Cherry Consignment, on California Avenue SW and SW Genesee, is a great way for anyone to kick off a West Seattle shopping day—it carries men’s and women’s apparel, and features maternity and plus-size sections to boot.

Start your outing on the west side of First Avenue at (1) Fini, located near Pike Place Market in the courtyard of the Inn at the Market building.

Beginning around Labor Day, I’ll be heading into the mountains to go lobster hunting. Say what?

Whatever your apple craving might be—tart and tangy or smooth and sweet—Booth Canyon Orchard owners Stina Booth and John Richardson have you covered. With 29 organic heirloom varieties of apples and more on the way—along with 12 varieties of pears—their tree fruits cover the full range of flavor, size and color.

Kingfish Café
Surprisingly light and subtly peppery, made with local corn, a creamy bowl of CRAWFISH AND CORN CHOWDER, flanked by flaky crackers, will hit the sweet spot. $5.50 cup, $8.50 bowl. Capitol Hill, 602 19th Ave. E; 206.320.8757;

Pass over the Disney princess this year and score a lunch bag with real style. These toxin-free, compostable bags are made of Ariaprene, a stain-resistant, machine-washable fabric that insulates food. Created by two sisters, Susan Givens and Carol Mack, the South Seattle-based dabbawalla bags was named after lunch delivery men in India.

Just in time for the start of school, beloved local kids’ shoe designer and West Seattle mom Cause Haun is out with her long-awaited new line of sneaks for little feet. See Kai Run’s adorable kicks are hip, colorful shoes that are sturdy yet flexible for growing feet, and, thanks to Velcro straps, are easy on/easy off.

Seattle’s abundant sweet shops appear to have taken some investment advice recently, going public with a more diverse slate of options.

September brings cooler evenings and that cozy fall feeling, which makes it the perfect time to embark on crafty projects. Columbia City quilt shop Stash, which opened last spring, takes an old craft to new heights with piles of eye-catching fabric patterns—including funky flowers, pretty plaids, geometric goodness and, er, gnomes.

WHY: For the second annual High Country Log Show (9/1-9/2, noon. Free. Runje Field, Roslyn Pioneer Park; 509.674.8161;

“When used well, design can solve problems,” says Linda Norlen—and she has proof.

Beacon Hill-based artist Klara Glosova doesn’t worry when people wonder, “That’s art?” She invites the question at adventurous happenings she hosts regularly at NEPO House (her living room turned pop-up art gallery). It’s also a driving question at NEPO 5K DON’T RUN, an art walk truly like no other in the city.

When it’s finished this fall, the Bullitt Center ( will be the greenest commercial building on the planet, using solar panels, geothermal wells, composting toilets and rainwater collection, among other innovations, to achieve “net zero” energy use.