World-Class Gifts

Go exotic, go quixotic, go all-the-rage, or go fair-trade, just be sure you go to these five globally sourced gift shops next time you’re feeling generous.

By Rachelle Robinett January 3, 2009 Published in the May 2008 issue of Seattle Met

Olive You
Keli DeRitis and Michelle Codd shop the Italian countryside—and the rest of Europe—to find the wine-red glazed bakeware, elegant glass vases, olive-wood chess sets, luxurious organic linens, and hand-painted decorative and serving ceramics that fill their pair of boutiques, Poggi Bonsiand Poggi Bonsi Cucina. When you, in turn, shop the cobblestone streets of Old Burien, your spree yields a surprisingly world-wise haul. Poggi Bonsi, 901 SW 152nd St, Burien, 206-242-9121. Poggi Bonsi Cucina, 907 SW 152nd St, Burien, 206-859-6401;


All in the Family
With its earthy yet modern urban-cottage vibe, Bitters Co. trades in useful family jewels: soft gray blankets made from sheep’s wool by a weaver in New England, Cinderella-ready brooms assembled from broomcorn and pine by work-study students in Kentucky. Chances are good that the irresistible bijoux that owners and sisters Amy and Katie Carson fetch from faraway lands—glassware from Mexico, vintage brass bracelets from Kenya—will stay in your circle for generations to come. Bitters Co., 513 N 36th St, Fremont, 206-632-0886;


Fair Thee Well
“People like finding things they can feel good about buying,” says Kathy Riley of the “little bit of a lot of things”—each of them fairly traded—at her Bonnie River. Among the feel-good goods at Riley’s small but well-stocked shop is Peace Oil, an extra-virgin olive oil produced by Arab and Jewish women in conjunction with a Palestinian farmer. Cozy knits from Latin America and South African folk art ought to inspire spirited gifting; you may even want to treat yourself. Bonnie River, 4411 Wallingford Ave N, Wallingford, 206-632-7703;


Fantasy Islands
Like an overturned Indonesian treasure chest, Island Life is a wildly colorful, clashing mash-up of jade rings, Balinese clay fireplaces, wooden parrots, and reed-and-sea-grass baskets just waiting to be carefully explored. Owner Lynette Wylie says the well-traveled day trippers who turn up on her shores aren’t just looking for adventure; they’re looking for a fix between beach breaks. Go big with a bamboo hut and bar for the backyard, or go home with a dashboard hula doll. Island Life, 2909 First Ave S, SoDo, 206-340-1212;


Handmade’s Tale
In the fair-trade business longer than the Fair Trade Federation—since 1962 to be precise—La Tienda co-owner Fred Hart peddles handmade artifacts from South America, Afghanistan, and other intriguing locales such as Fremont. Direct relationships with artists allow for a vast selection that ranges from small, sweet nothings to significant statement pieces; try on earthy Nepalese jewelry or try out an art piece made in Haiti from recycled steel oil drums. La Tienda, 2050 NW Market St, Ballard, 206-297-3605;

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