Put on you comfortable walking shoes because downtown Seattle has 1800 retailers and once you start you will not want to stop. So what, you say, what makes Seattle special? First it’s the density of the shopping. All these stores are located between 4th and 6th Avenues and Olive and Union, which is only four blocks. You can’t take a step without finding some store you must stop in.
Begin your day by fueling up at Le Pichet, a classy French bistro. Try some house made yogurt with honey and walnuts, a cheese board, or a selection of fresh and cured meats. And don’t forget the coffee and fresh baked pastries. Ready to shop?
There are three “malls” in downtown: Westlake Center -okay but more for tourists since the monorail stops there, Rainier Square -upscale but small, and Pacific Place -upscale and affordable, if you consider Tiffany’s affordable. There are also two major department stores in downtown Seattle–the flagship Nordstrom, and Macy’s depending on personal preference.
Just about every chain is represented downtown. For women’s clothes; J Jill, Coldwater Creek, Talbot’s, Ann Taylor, and Chico’s. For men’s and women’s; Brooks Brothers, Kenneth Cole, Pendleton, Gap, Banana Republic, Barney’s New York, and Eddie Bauer. For athletic wear; Nike, Adidas, and New Balance. For house wares; Restoration Hardware, Sharper Image, William Sonoma, and City Kitchen. Then there are the assorted jewelry stores, and stores for gifts and accessories.
Not enough for you? Then how about going four more blocks down Pike Street and trying out the famous Pike Place Market? This is the place where they do indeed throw fish and there is nowhere better for fresh seafood and produce. But that’s just the upstairs. Head below where you will find two floors of shops that are not your average mall selections and some are down right weird. How about incense, instruments, leather, comic books, pottery, pets, and a shop just for left handed people? And then there are the tourist shops, which you really can’t avoid because everyone needs a “Sleepless in Seattle” nightshirt.
While you’re at the market, have lunch made from the freshest market produce, seafood and meats? Stop at Bacco Café and Bistro and try a bay shrimp and avocado salad or a fresh Dungeness crab sandwich while you gloat over your recent purchases. Have a glass of wine to loosen up your wrist for the next round of debit card swiping.
Back downtown and it’s time to visit some shops unique to Seattle. First, for the clothes hounds, there is Betsey Johnson which carries designer originals, Rue, a French inspired dress shop, and Sway and Cake featuring trendy boutique wear. For accessories try Clutch which is all handbags, all the time, John Fluevog, a Vancouver designer of shoes, and Twist, a gallery of wearable art and jewelry. If you really want to warm up that credit card, stop into Isadora’s and look through the designer gowns and custom made formal wear from the past 130 years. Yes, it’s pricey but you won’t find clothes like this in any mall.
For the little ones check out Flora and Henri, featuring upscale children’s clothing. For the home there is Great Jones Home which has an eclectic combination of modern, antique, and art deco furniture and home décor. They also offer imported textiles and wall papers and a design service. And finally, de Medici Ming Fine Paper has the coolest stationary, cards, and fine paper.
When you have reached your credit limit, it’s time to sit down for a dinner at a Seattle original- the McCormick Fish House- where everything is fresh, prepared to perfection and beautifully presented. Order a cocktail, sit back, relax and rummage through your loot.
If you are really committed to shopping and need another day, you may want to stay overnight. Try the Crowne Plaza, the Hilton Seattle or the Mayflower Park Hotel. All are in the midst of the downtown shopping so you can start fresh the next morning.
What and Where:
Le Pichet (1933 1st Ave; 206-256-1499)
Westlake Center (400 Pine; 206-467-1600)
Rainier Square (411 Union; 206) 373-7119)
Pacific Place (600 Pine; 206-405-2655)
Nordstrom (500 Pine; 206-628-1066)
Macy’s (300 Pine; 206-506-6365)
J Jill (600 Pine; 206-405-1595)
Coldwater Creek (1511 5th Av; 206-903-0830)
Talbot’s (400 Pine; 206-903-1132)
Ann Taylor (1420 5th Ave; 206-623-4818)
Chico’s (600 Pine; 206-624-5549)
Brooks Brothers (1330 5th Ave; 206-624-4400)
Kenneth Cole (520 Pike St; 206-382-1680)
Pendleton (1313 4th Ave; 206-682-4430)
Gap (1530 5th Ave; 206-254-8000)
Banana Republic (500 Pike St; 206-622-2303)
Barney’s New York (600 Pine St; 206-622-6300 )
Eddie Bauer (600 Pine; 206-622-2766)
Nike (1500 6th Ave; 206) 447-4725)
Adidas (1501 5th Ave; 206-387-4317)
New Balance (1510 7th Ave; 206-264-0894)
Restoration Hardware (600 Pine; 206-522-2775)
Sharper Image (1501 4th; 206-343-9125)
William Sonoma (600 Pine; 206)-624-1422)
City Kitchen (1527 4th Ave; 206-382-1138)
Pike Place Market (1st Av and Pike St)
Bacco Café and Bistro (86 Pine St; 206 443 5443)
Betsey Johnson (1425 5th Ave; 206-624-2887)
Rue (611 Stewart; 206-264-0788)
Sway and Cake (1631 6th Ave; 206) 624-2699)
Clutch (1212 4th Ave; 206-622-3900)
John Fluevog (205 Pine; 206-441-1065)
Twist (600 Pine; 206-315-8080)
Isadora’s (1915 1st Ave; 206-441-7711)
Flora and Henri (717 Pine; 206-749-9698)
Great Jones Home (1921 2nd Ave; 206-448-9405)
De Medici Ming Fine Paper (1222 1st Ave; 206-624-1983)
McCormick Fish House (722 4th Ave; 206-682-3900)
Pacific Place (600 Pine; 206-405-2655)
Crowne Plaza (11136 6th Ave; 206-464-1980)
Hilton Seattle (1301 6th Ave; 206-624-0500)
Mayflower Park Hotel (405 Olive Way; 206-382-6990)
Marion L. Head is an educator and freelance writer who lives in Seattle, WA. Marion has published fiction in various anthologies and nonfiction on various websites. Marion is author of South Dakota: An Explorer’s Guide for Countryman Press.