Cheryl Shops...Seattle
The second stop on MW's and my Pacific Northwest vacation was Seattle--we took the Amtrak Cascades line down from Vancouver, and I would highly recommend it, especially if, like me, you hate driving. Of the three cities we visited, Seattle was my least favorite; this could be because the weather was craptastic on our first day, or because we spent the least amount of time there. I had also been told that Seattle had great shopping--which might be true, as I certainly didn't see as much of the city as I could have--but I feel like whenever people tell me this, I end up being let down (see Berlin). My other issue with Seattle is its public transportation, or lack thereof; yes, there are a lot of buses (which are free downtown on weekdays), and, yes, downtown is pretty walkable, but venturing beyond downtown can be a bit complicated. Kind of makes me with Campbell Scott's Singles character got the Supertrain built after all.

I'm going to bet that when a lot of people think "Seattle" and "shopping," they think of the Pike Place Market, which has levels and levels of stalls selling everything from food (including the famous Pike Place Fish Market, where they throw fish through the air) to vintage clothing. There are a lot of craft vendors here too, if that's your thing; I bought chocolate-covered cherries at Chukar Cherries for my coworkers. I also recommend First & Pike News, which has a ton of international magazines (I gleefully bought a copy of Grazia). Just east of the market, First Avenue has a lot of shops. A Mano is a small but focused shoe store, and the selection--mostly Italian, some clogs--reminded me a lot of Soula in Brooklyn. Nuvo Moda was having a great sale, but, being a black-wearing New Yorker, their racks were just a bit too colorful for me; I felt the same about The Finerie. One of my favorite stores was Parfumerie Nasreen, a tiny shop in the Alexis Hotel that sells all manner of perfumes, from Bond No. 9 and the hard-to-find Amouage line to rare fragrances that are hard to find in America, such as Balmain's Ambre Gris, which I totally fell in love with. Also right up the street from the Market is Alhambra, an earthy-bohemian store that can best be described as a more expensive, more sophisticated Anthropologie, with a lot of clothes from the likes of Rozae Nichols and a nice selection of jewelry. I felt like Alhambra, like many stores in downtown Seattle, was geared toward an older shopper with a lot of money to burn.

I had better luck on Fifth Avenue, the retail stretch in downtown Seattle with everything from American Apparel to Betsey Johnson. This is where the flagship Nordstrom resides; it's probably one of the biggest Nordstroms I've visited, and it is, as you'd expect, filled with the chain's famously courteous salespeople. Around the corner is Sway And Cake, a store that seems geared toward people more my age (or perhaps a bit younger), with lots of denim, fun dresses and tops, and a lot of great, affordable costume jewelry (I picked up a bunch of bracelets). There are also several mini-malls along the 5th Avenue stretch; the only one I'd recommend going into is Pacific Place, which houses a great jewelry store named Twist, which carries everything from reasonably-priced costume jewelry from lines like Tal to the good stuff from Cathy Waterman. Also in Pacific Place is a mini Barneys; I managed to score an A.P.C. trench coat on double markdown, but not with the help of the incredibly blasé salespeople, who were too busy retooling the store displays to help any customers. Now I see why Barneys has such a snobby reputation (although I find the NYC employees very friendly).

To the north of downtown is Belltown, a neighborhood that seems like where Seattle's moneyed dot-com millionaires go to feel trendy. I liked a shoe store called Shoefly, which had a great sale section in back, with brands like Seychelles and Jeffrey Campbell in front. I also liked a store called Endless Knot; the clothes are a bit nondescript, but they have great jewelry and gifts; MW was taken by a bunch of Tintin plaques.

Outside of downtown, we hit Pretty Parlor in Capitol Hill, not far from our hotel, which had a well edited selection of vintage and reworked vintage clothes. Otherwise, Pine Street and Broadway are the main drags in this neighborhood; the latter has, yes, an American Apparel and an Urban Outfitters, but it also has Red Light Vintage, a huge, two-floor store that seemed to go on forever. I found a vintage Bonnie Cashin for Coach leather jumper that, alas, would've been a bit too small in the hips; as with nearly all West Coast vintage shops, prices are quite reasonable. MW spent several hours (and some dough) at Everyday Music, a huge music store featuring both new and used CDs and records (and a breed of which we don't seem to have in NYC).

We didn't have time to make it to Fremont, which, after the fact, I heard has the best shopping in the city--since we had to make a train to Portland, we ended up with only slightly more than two and a half days in Seattle. But there's always next time...

1 comment

Anonymous said...

Cool. I also saw this article that gets down to why people like (and buy) old fashioned jewelry, very interesting interview with David Weiman, check out