Archie McPhee, Seattle's best and strangest. Photograph: Amber Fouts
Remember: Things are weird right now! Washington retailers can currently only operate at 25 percent capacity, and individual store hours and rules change frequently. Check online or call ahead before heading out.
The Madison Square Garden of Seattle novelty shops boasts an impressive collection of inspired creations, like a squishable “stress tardigrade,” “handerpants” (yes, hand underpants), and an Edvard Munch–inspired electronic noisemaker that emits all this year’s pent-up screams for you.
Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square
Part grocer, part deli, part candy store, with a few beers on tap, Cone and Steiner’s Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square locations are one-stop neighborhood shops.
Pike Place Market
Located in the depths of Pike Place Market since 1961, Golden Age Collectables is thought to be the oldest comic book shop in the world. Here, each aisle gives way to another just as stocked with age-defying treasures, from a full wall of Funko Pop figures to what feels like an entire franchise worth of Star Wars paraphernalia, to, obviously, rows and rows of comics.
West Seattle’s storied vinyl shop and cafe has played host to a murderer’s row of iconic bands, from the Sonics to Pearl Jam, earning it a spot on national must-visit lists. Bide the time until the venue’s next packed house perusing all the music you could ask for in digs that feel like the Seattle you miss.
This expansive independent bookstore moved from its original Pioneer Square location in 2010, but a quick break from lamenting the good old days reveals the same lovely shop—this time, with massive paned windows that let the light in even on the dreariest Seattle day.
South Lake Union
More than just a pile of goose feathers, the down sleeping bags, coats, and vests nesting inside this flagship store are world-class.
Owner and designer Jane Hedreen launched her children’s clothing line in the late ’90s—now, a light-filled showroom houses her designs alongside home goods and fashions for the whole family (the one whose house always seems to have the sleekest gadgets and tome-stocked book shelves).
Why trust another city with your rainwear? Freeman’s made-in-Seattle raincoats and cozy basics conjure up images of an idyllic camping trip without making you look or feel like you’re wrapped up in the tent.
You could spend hours in this downtown Fremont basement without being ever the wiser. Dozens of vendors vaguely organized into their own mini shops means there’s something here for everyone, from retro Seahawks gear to mid-century barware to cheeky earrings made by local designers.
Perhaps the most serene of Seattle’s clothing boutiques, Glasswing is all earth tones, canvas, and greenery—outfit yourself in wear-forever pieces from designers like Jan-Jan Van Essche and Evan Kinori while you outfit your home garden (yes, even at the shop’s clothing-centric Melrose Market–adjacent location).
Veer off the Burke-Gilman and into Fremont’s indoor garden oasis to find tropicals like Dieffenbachia, shelves of succulents, easy-to-care-for air plants, and enough hanging vines to turn an apartment into an arboretum—as well as the friendly experts and useful extras to help you care for it all.
The shopping mall. It’s the crystallized form of Americana, fabricated from loitering teens and Orange Julius stalls. But down in Georgetown, far from the business districts and centers of consumerism, lies an eccentric marketplace where weekend vendors peddle throwback threads, folk art, and a plethora of wonderfully bizarre ephemera that has helped Seattleites forsake their mall rat ways.
Like pictures, treasures from this accessories shop are worth a thousand words. Instead, here are three: bold, refined, essential. Whether it’s something delightfully understated like a simple 18-karat -gold bar necklace or distinctive like a custom sweatshirt, it most definitely lives here.
Since 2014, Karl Hackett has curated and restored vintage furniture for sale at his Hillman City–area furniture shop. Why scour the internet for impeccable mid-century style when you can have the real thing?
University District, Chinatown–International District
Fans of retro or niche video games should get acquainted with the gorilla. The U District and C–ID locations specialize in classic, hard-to-find, and imported video games and novelties, with consoles ranging from rare 1980s behemoths to the uber popular Nintendo Switch.
It’s a fitting name for a boutique that brings a much-needed dose of color to a city of blues and grays. But don’t mistake playfulness for trend-chasing. From Girlfriend Collective’s brightest leggings to a rainbow of Rains jackets (to the French press you’ll fantasize about using while wearing it all), Prism makes the case for statement pieces that cut through the gloom.
To step foot in Scarecrow is to time travel to a recent past, one with far less streaming and far more Cookie Dough Bites. This decades-old U District stalwart offers over 138,000 titles on DVD, Blu-ray, VHS, LaserDisc—a selection the now-nonprofit advertises as the world’s largest publicly available video collection.
For die-hard Seattle fans and those who simply appreciate quality vintage, Throwbacks NW is the city's go-to stop for old-school jerseys, pristine snapbacks, and comfy crewnecks in the fonts, colorways, and teams (we miss you, Sonics) of a bygone era.
Founded in Georgetown in 1997, this sweeping consignment shop offers an unprecedented selection of plus-size clothing, from 25-cent sale items to $800 designer consignment in styles and sizes that reflect the diversity of its customer base.
With a University of Washington degree in environmental science, Valerie Madison makes jewelry that’s both art and science: Her nature-inspired necklaces, engagement rings, and bracelets are made in Seattle with recycled metals and ethically sourced gemstones.