3 Ways To Shop Like The Locals For Gifts Made In Washington
We have a saying around here: “when it comes to gifts made in Washington, there’s more to ‘local’ than salmon in a box.” In fact, if you truly want to find the best gifts from Seattle and appreciate the Pacific Northwest’s culture of local craftsmanship, take a few tips from our intrepid gift-spotters who know where to find the most unique regional treasures. After all, we’re not exactly your regular neighborhood gift shop!
Tip 1: Consult the map.
You might be surprised to learn just how specific we can get with our local gifts. It’s not just that we carry anything and everything made within a 50 mile radius of the Space Needle--it’s that we take care to connect with craftspeople who are passionate about the “locavore” experience, be it in their small island town just outside of Seattle, or their bustling neighborhood in Capitol Hill (just blocks from our own office!).
These are the independent artisans (like Lee Strohm of Pedrohm Woodworking, who has sold her handmade wooden cutting boards in Pike Place Market since the 1980s), scrappy business partners (like Justin Hoffman and Bryan Mitchiner, behind Mustard and Co.), and family-run companies (like Wild Things Chocolate-Dipped Almonds by mother-daughter team Val and Breezy Griffith) whose products we combine to make memorable gifts.
Tip 2: Rethink the meaning of “souvenir”.
When we think of souvenirs past, we think of three possible examples: elaborate works of art that looked SO good in the artist’s studio through your vacation goggles but now seem ridiculous at home, poorly-made generic trinkets snatched up at a tourist attraction (or-- *gasp*--the airport store!), or snacks you smuggled home in your carry-on. Of these, the only one worth really considering is food.
Spend even a short time in Seattle and you’re sure to eat well. Thanks in part to Seattle’s community of award-winning chefs, it’s easy to find excellent gourmet food and drink items that can make terrific corporate gift baskets or housewarming presents. Sure, our artisanal snacks and cocktail supplies might not be TRUE tourist souvenirs, since you don’t have to visit town to enjoy them, but they can conjure memories of places you’ve loved, or transport you to places you want to explore.
In one possible Washington-themed gift combination, for example, you can take yourself on a tasting tour of the islands in the Puget Sound. Pair a crusty sourdough loaf with savory bread dips dreamed up in the San Juan Islands, enjoy your cheese course with heirloom-varietal fruit preserves lovingly made on Orcas Island, and savor sips of Andrew Will Winery’s Red Mountain Ciel du Cheval from Vashon Island. Bon appetit--or is it bon voyage?
Tip 3: Sometimes you’ve got to blend in to stand out.
The absolute best Washington gift idea we have for you? Shop like the locals. Or at least talk to the locals. Some of our best discoveries have emerged from conversations with people--customers, current merchants, heck, even our founder Laura’s hairdresser--about cool new products or incredible vendors. We also strive to meet our makers; we’ve visited booths at Urban Craft Uprising, Renegade Craft Fair, and even more niche events to connect with the merchants who share our values, like Lindsay Lawrence, the sailor-turned-sustainable entrepreneur behind Metamorphic Gear’s durable, stylish bags crafted from upcycled sail materials, or John Choe, designer behind That Black Dot, whose modern Joybar kitchen towels add a hint of sophisticated wit anywhere they’re displayed.
Inspired yet? Consider us your resource for the most compelling Washington-inspired gifts, whether you're shopping for a move-in gift for clients who just bought their first house in Ballard, or creating a gift basket of gourmet Seattle treats for your Midwestern in-laws who visit every chance they get.