It took longer to reach Seattle than the rest of the country, but when the recession hit, it caused more havoc here than a baseball-bat-swinging chimp in a Chihuly exhibit. Suddenly separating customers from their money became a game at which only the most Seattle-ish of businesses could, well, if not succeed, then at least grab our attention. We explored the new landscape of recession-slaying marketing. Here’s what we found.

Clairvoyance at ArtHaus Jan 18, 2009

Challenge Selling space in ArtHaus, a half-empty, nine-unit condominium on Capitol Hill, where condo prices have dropped 1.2 percent in the past year.
The Lure Developers parked tarot card reader Judith Ballard in a penthouse of the renovated 80-plus-year-old building and invited the public in for a free reading.
Bottom Line Ballard told one condo browser her home wouldn’t sell for at least six months—which any newspaper-headline reader could “foretell”—but the event did draw 40 people, two of which are in negotiations to buy units.

D-listers at Hotel 1000 Dec 1, 2008

Challenge Drawing attention to Hotel 1000 in a year that saw a 1.7 percent drop in downtown luxury hotel occupancy.
The Lure Tanorexic Project Runway contestant and Yakima native Blayne Walsh appeared at the hotel with his debut collection—sending needle-thin models in his “Day-Glo to Night” attire scissoring down a runway the size of a diving board.
Bottom Line The hotel’s bar, BOKA, saw a 26 percent increase in sales, a definite feat for a Monday night.

Girls’ Night at Mario’s Feb 11, 2009

Challenge Attracting ladies into Mario’s, one of Seattle’s most respected clothiers, during a time when some upscale retailers are reporting between 20 and 30 percent sales losses.
The Lure A party in which planners showered female guests with Page Cellar’s “Lick My Lips” Syrah, Theo’s Chocolate confections, cupcakes from Cupcake Royale, and mini makeovers by Bocz Salon.
Bottom Line The store optimistically capped the party at 150 ladies, but a week before the event only 60 had registered to attend.

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