New: Curtis Steiner

Or, rather: Old, and wonderfully so. The former Souvenir owner reopens with delicate jewelery and antiques under his own name.

By Laura Cassidy May 19, 2011


Note to aspiring journalists: If you hang out with the right kind of people, you don’t actually have to ask any questions.

Former Souvenir owner Curtis Steiner is that kind of person. He has a following. It’s not incorrect to say he has a cult. And if you’re gathering information on him—say, something about his recent exodus from his original storefront and his stealthy move to a newly opened, renamed joint just up the street—you can just stroll in and spend your time leisurely looking under glass at antique jewelry and pulling out apothecary drawers to discover unexpected treasure. Because the, uh, fans (shoppers, neighbors, religious zealots) will buzz in and out at a steady pace asking whatever it is or was you were wondering about anyway.

First, there was the couple in his-and-her perfectly worn-thin faded denim with the Barneys-goes-boho well-traveled vibe (she turned out to be a jeweler whose work will soon be shown at the new shop).

“It’s just so great, this place is like five times the size of the old one, isn’t it?,” they asked.

“The retail floor is, yes,” answered Steiner, and then gestured to what might be mistaken for a sacred meditation nook in the shop’s northwest corner to conclude, “but my studio in the other place was about five times as big as that one.”

(You won’t notice the difference in the artisan/collector’s workspace; his handmade card collection feels more beautiful and fully complete than ever.)

And then the guy seemingly just popping in after whatever it is people do at the gym to pick up something special that his someone special had either pointed out or otherwise willed into her life. (Lucky gal.)

“You must be so glad you moved, it’s beautiful in here,” said the gift buyer.

To which Steiner paraphrased a statement he gave some days earlier to the Ballard Tribune: “I’m not going to write my former landlord a Thank You card, but everything is working out well.

And the girl in the baggy jeans and giant cardigan. “Wow, high gloss floor. What was this place before?”

It was the Guitar Emporium, but the acoustic six-strings had never had a floor with that kind of sheen beneath them. Steiner and company refinished it. Of course. And then they brought in antique settees and homesteading relics and vintage carnival findings and raw diamonds set in modern art jewelery. And new and reworked finery, salvaged treasures, and oddities whose charm require wit and intellect. More, thankfully, of the same (more or less) only bigger, better, and set underneath natural light.

What you really need to know is that downtown Ballard now has an exquisite centerpiece. Go see for yourself; you’ll uncover lots of other interesting information while you’re there.

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