The pandemic changed our relationship with merch, transforming it from a mere statement about where we live and what we love into a rallying cry for neighborhood favorites we couldn’t stand to let go. What 2020 took from us in live shows and bartop margaritas we did our best to make up for in branded crewnecks and snarky tote bags. Businesses responded accordingly: If your favorite movie theater, bar, or bagel spot didn’t already sling swag when Seattle’s first shutdowns hit, odds are good they’ve printed a T-shirt or two by now.
Still, as Seattle Met staff discussed over Slack, some of the local institutions we’d be most willing to rep from head-to-toe are conspicuously lacking in the gift shop department. Consider the result our formal request for fan gear.
Washington State Ferries
You’ve probably seen a likeness stuffed with cellophane-wrapped chocolates or printed on a poster in an Etsy shop. But our fine ferry system deserves more than knock-off swag. We can just see the “I Got Ship-Faced on the Washington State Ferry” shirts now. —Angela Cabotaje, Editor in Chief
The Seattle Process
What would Seattle merch be without a little snark and passive aggression? For a town that loves to fashion itself progressive, actual progress comes in fits and starts at city hall. Throw on this hoodie the next time you're risking life and limb to cross the Missing Link because Ballard light rail won't exist until the Jetsons make their long-awaited arrival. —Benjamin Cassidy, Senior Editor
The Cheese Counter at Big John’s PFI
I have a T-shirt from my favorite bookshop and cookie bakery. Even my neighborhood postal store has merch. But apparel that truly reflects what’s in my soul would rep the long glass case filled with cheese at Seattle’s bulk Italian grocery. Here, massive wheels of blue, gouda, and triple cream come with expansive tasting notes that occasionally swerve into astrology. They’re surrounded by all manner of quince paste, pasta shapes, and olives and Liguria pepperoni by the pound. This place has everything I need—except a shirt to proclaim my love. (While we’re at it, a Shepard Fairey–style poster of Shiro Kashiba would be pretty cool, too.) —Allecia Vermillion, Executive Editor
ORCA’s recent merch giveaway was to the tune of a few lackluster tote bags, much to the disappointment of fellow public transit stans. Might we humbly suggest fare enforcement (apologies, fare ambassador) Halloween costumes? Though current policies can result in an eventual fine for repeat offenders, everyone knows it’s the threat of an awkward conversation really keeping Seattleites in line. In the true spirit of spooky season, don that yellow hat and strike terror into the hearts of every twenty-something trying to catch a free ride to Capitol Hill for Halloweekend bar-hopping. —Sophie Grossman, Digital Editor
The Gum Wall
I am an enthusiastic chewer of gum. I snap it, chomp it, blow monster bubbles. I’ve been told it’s gross…it is. I’m also a huge fan of Pike Place Market. And yet, this publication literally had to pay me to put my first, second, third (you get the idea) piece of gum on the wall. Yes, I touched the Gum Wall (in the time of Covid). If only I had an "I Touched the Gum Wall and I Survived" T-shirt to show for it. A merch table with those little wipes they hand out at BBQ joints would be nice, too. —Jane Sherman, Art Director
Despite the wealth of logo items you can find at our iconic hometown department store—from throwback Juicy Couture threads to a $250 Balenciaga sweatshirt for toddlers—not one of them allows me to explicitly project my undying love for Seattle’s most fashionable institution. Come on: a bright yellow hoodie with the anniversary sale winky face? An “I’d Rather Be Shopping at Nordstrom Rack” bumper sticker? A sassy crop top that says “Even Nordstrom Wouldn’t Take Him Back”? Shut up and take (even more of) my money. —Zoe Sayler, Style Editor
The Real City of Bridges
Portland slaps its bridges on all sorts of merch, but Seattle can claim much prettier pieces of infrastructure. Why don't we celebrate the dramatic drawbridge that is the Montlake span? The bright blue—and occasionally occupied—towers of the Fremont Bridge? Even trains have a striking crossover at the Salmon Bay Bridge just above the Ballard Locks. Heck, if buying a rendering of the ailing West Seattle Bridge would speed up repair at all, I'd be willing to sip coffee out of a mug emblazoned with that boring arc of concrete. —Allison Williams, Deputy Editor