If that $10 from Grandma is still burning a hole in your pocket or you spent all your money on Seahawks tickets and didn’t have any left to buy presents, it’s OK: There’s a whole year ahead of you in which you can acquire cool stuff for yourself and people you like. Seattle’s got plenty of businesses that are starting to flourish with people opening shops and selling products you can’t find anywhere else and creating art -- both useful and purely decorative. These are the people who make Seattle great and who you should feel great supporting.
Proof That Iceland's Ring Road Is the World's Most Beautiful Road Trip
Downtown If Etsy came to life and there were a place to browse the kinds of individual, hand-made crafts people drool over online, this would be the result. The shop sells the work of all types of independent creatives from around the Pacific Northwest, including candles, hot sauce, jewelry, ceramics, cards, popcorn, leather, and just about anything else you can think up. Trying to find a venue to sell small-batch goods can be hard for single-person shops, so this opportunity to showcase products in a giant Downtown mall is the chance of a lifetime for most artists -- it's our job, as admirers of beautiful and delicious items, to put our money in the pockets of people creating them.
First Hill This is not your grandpa’s museum gift shop: The store curates a collection of toys, household objects, books, and art that's as intriguing as it is stunning. Whether it’s a kite shaped like a sailing ship or a silk chiffon scarf, the store highlights local artists and their unique pieces. Also, the shop is a non-profit supporting the museum -- which offers free entry to everyone, every day.
Fremont A cookbook shop that doubles as a community center for the culinary crowd. Though the shelves are lined with the latest and greatest books, imported treasures, and hard-to-find gems, you may also walk in to find a cooking class, speaker, demonstration, or the occasional snack offering. While many independent book shops are struggling, this nook of a space succeeded by creating a welcoming environment for all lovers of food and literature. Shop there to support -- and become a part of -- a truly amazing group.
Pike Place Market What started as a shoe company out of Louie Gong’s living room is now a Native-owned shop in Seattle’s busiest market, selling incredible wool blankets and other handmade crafts by Native artists. Much of the Native-inspired art on the market today comes from big companies taking ideas and designs -- and in turn, income -- from Native artists. Shopping at Eighth Generation ensures that you are getting beautiful and original pieces that aren't exploiting or stealing others' ideas.
Capitol Hill An herbal apothecary that sells everything from potions to cure the common cold to chocolate. Whether you stop in for a medicinal consultation with the on-staff herbalists or to pick up a “Fuck Trump” necklace, this shop will cure what ails you. And, the whip-smart, outspoken owner spends her words and platform fighting for equality and justice -- all while healing the people around her.
Various Your source for all things video game related, from retro systems to the latest releases. This shop buys and sells it all -- including toys and clothing. But what really makes it cool is the fact that this shop is woman-owned... which is refreshing in a typically male-dominated industry and culture.
Ballard Whether you’re looking to expand your liquor cabinet or simply try something new, taste your way through the products at this nano-distillery. Inspired by the neighborhood's Scandinavian heritage, the tiny spot produces various flavors of aquavit and a cherry bounce (aged sour fruit liqueur). While you’re there, pick up some herring: pickled, salted, frozen, or smoked. Ballard's Scandinavian history is fading into the background quickly, and it's little shops like this that will help us remember the roots of our city and neighborhoods. So watch an episode of the Ballard Driving Academy, take a shot of aquavit, and shout "Skal!" across the canal with us.
Pike Place Market When two local artists collaborate on a shop, you get a zany, innately cheerful store full of wacky art -- and the tools you need to make your own. Explore the tiny 300sqft to find waterproof shower art, DIY craft kits, coloring books, and AT-AT sweatshirts. Not only do you get to shop for adorable toys (for adults and kids) and gifts, but you'll be supporting other artists and local causes. Last year they even held a bunny party for easter with live bunnies to raise money for charity.
Downtown This unique and intrinsically Seattle clothing is in a shop collaborated on by former Seahawk Shaun Alexander. The colors are black, white, and maybe a touch of gray, but the shopping experience is full of local color -- including a speakeasy and live music events. It was founded to, in their words, "encourage, inform, inspire, unite, and invest in the extraordinary causes around us."
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Naomi Tomky is a freelance writer who loves Seattle's small businesses and can't wait for you to love them, too. Find her on Twitter @Gastrognome and on Instagram @the_gastrognome.
As the sunsets get earlier and the nights more blustery, we have to come to terms with the fact that it’s fall in Seattle. But as you look out the window at 6pm and exclaim to yourself, “It’s already dark?!,” keep in mind we created this list with you in mind. Below you’ll find a bunch of fun stuff you have to do to make the most of fall... and a lot of it won’t cost you a cent.
From Los Angeles to San Diego: Every Pit Stop You Need To Make Along The Way
With zero humidity and palm trees in the rearview mirror, cruising down the Pacific coast to San Diego from Los Angeles is summer. Of course, LA traffic can make it less cruiseworthy and more bumper-to-bumper. But with authentic taquerias, whale watching, and iconic surf breaks, there’s a quintessential SoCal pit stop just about every mile of the ride to distract you. Here’s seven summer getaways you can easily hit on the way to San Diego -- just don’t forget the sunscreen and a swimsuit.
Tacoma sits on the Puget Sound roughly 30 miles outside of Seattle. It's a town that’s managed to maintain its PNW charm and character throughout the decades, even as surrounding metropolitan hubs slowly scrub away their history and modernize with peculiar high-rises and lavish condos. And though the price for resisting rampant development is urban decay, Tacoma haunts like Bob's Java Jive and B&I show the city's propensity to stay true to its roots and maintain its identity.
Tacoma is also known for its weirdness (the phonetically pleasing phenomenon dubbed the Aroma of Tacoma probably has something to do with this). Here, you get a distinct sense that you’ve taken a half step back in time driving into a quirky town awash with both shrines to bygone eras and sweeping views of the Puget Sound, Mount Rainier, and Olympic Mountains. The city boasts two distinct nicknames: "City of Destiny" and "Grit City," each paying homage to Tacoma's past, present, and future. But to truly get a sense of Washington's third-largest city, you just have to go there. And when you do, we'll have you covered with everything you need to do when you arrive.