Snapdoodle cuts through the remote learning blues. Photo by Amber Fouts.
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.
Support local while supporting local (meta). This shop counts games by Seattle creators like Daily Magic and Flatout Games among its topped-up shelves (and its well-stocked online store: Blue Highway offers curbside pickup and nationwide shipping).
Earnestly wish modern childhood looked a little more like it did when you were a kid? This shop pretty well sticks to the classics: jump ropes, wooden hairdresser kits, Little Golden books. One slight departure: plush bunnies now don tiny pastel masks.
There’s no need to brave a commute off the island to stuff a stocking. But you probably already know that: No self-respecting kid can walk by the toy-filled window of this California Avenue shop, now owned by the masterminds behind Bainbridge Island’s long-standing Calico Toy Shoppe (also worth a visit), without begging to take a closer look.
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 an entire franchise worth of Star Wars paraphernalia (and, of course, a Baby Yoda-Funko crossover).
A sanctuary for tabletop gamers of all ages (and anyone looking for a stay-home friendly distraction), Mox Boarding House offers family-friendly classics, RPGs, and stocking stuffer card games that hearken back to a time before Twitch —but those cozy living room game nights couldn’t feel more 2020.
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.
If the Joneses are three feet tall and currently learning to ride a bike, this is where to keep up with them. Red Wagon stocks traditional toy shop fare alongside coveted trends, from those three-wheel Micro Kickboard scooters zooming down every block to Jellycat soft toys (the Beanie Babies of the twenty-first century, in the best way).
For when you’re this close to giving up on remote learning: This education-oriented toy shop’s Seattle-area locations sneakily supplement Zoom classes with books about sharks and space, brain teasers disguised as board games, and instruments designed for beginners.