University Village has come a long way since its opening in 1956, expanding from something of a small-time strip mall to a destination shopping center stacked with retailers like Reformation and CB2 that prove brick-and-mortar is still cool. 

Longtime locals may lament the loss of Lamonts—you just can’t buy underwear at the Village anymore, as they say. But if there’s one thing that’s constant at the Seattle shopping center that was once a lake bed, it’s change.

Here's a look back at some of the many big-deal openings of the past 66 years.

1956

Twenty-five hundred sartorial Seattleites attend the opening week fashion show at University Village’s first anchor, Rhodes Department Store, featuring trends like brown wool bermuda shorts, feathered hats, and a surprising amount of mink.

1958

Women’s International Bowling Congress hall-of-famer Janet Harman joins the opening ceremonies at Village Lanes (complete with automatic pin-setting machines).

1972

A popular new shop founded in downtown Seattle the year prior adds another location at University Village. The new shop: Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spices.

1977

Winter’s Formal Wear opens with an “unusual, high-fashion offering,” per The Seattle Times: women’s tuxedos.

1981

Legendary Seattle culinary store Mrs. Cook’s—a foodie haven that predates the term—moves to its longtime U Village spot after five years in Laurelhurst. (The shop closed for good in 2018.)

1983

Neighbors and new moms Shelley Capretto and Brigid Stricks open a branch of the Lady Madonna Maternity chain, later going independent under the Village Maternity name fashionable Seattle parents know and love.

1984

Cosmetics company Merle Norman reflects some distinctly ’80s beauty standards in advertisements announcing its new University Village location. "Win a fabulous shopping spree for your new face," a woman with feathered hair promises. "Now it’s your turn to be beautiful."

1995

The PNW’s biggest location of local brand (and puffy coat proprietor) Eddie Bauer sets up shop in what The Seattle Times calls “a surprising location”—not downtown, not in a mall, “but at University Village, the neighborhood shopping center east of the University of Washington.” Things have changed.

1996

A brand-new QFC “so big you can see the curvature of the earth in it,” per longtime shopper Sue Tong, opens its doors.

1998

Local favorite Ravenna Gardens continues the Village’s long standing tradition of garden stores (pour one out for Malmo and Ernst).

2003

Pre-iPhone Apple opens a University Village shop with this then-mind-blowing promise: “All of our retail stores have free internet access.” The company’s current glass-walled fortress opened in 2018 with some more modern offerings.

Crate and Barrel completes the shopping center’s murderer’s row of furniture stores, which at this point includes Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma. Asked about the nearby competition by then–Seattle Times reporter Jake Batsell, founder Gordon Segal replies: “Look at the Pike Place Market—you've got a cluster of people there selling the same kind of fish, crab, and salmon.” Why not exploit the same setup for dutch ovens, bed sheets, and credenzas?

2011

Edgar Martínez demos motion-sensing Kinect technology and the Black Keys performs at Microsoft’s brand-new 4,198-square-foot store.

2015

Sally Bergesen, ahuge Village shopper since forever,” picks the shopping center for the flagship location of women’s running brand Oiselle—and soon starts a tradition of Thursday morning runs (which frequently wind up at Elemental Pizza).

2019

K Banana manifests our skincare obsession into a little neon shop filled with joy (and K-beauty products): “I wanted to create a place of happiness and discovery,” founder Liz Kang Yates says.

2021

Beloved by flirtatious millennial wedding guests, Reformation debuts with fitting room touch screens and three custom light settings: Golden, Cool, and Sexy Time. It's joined by fellow sustainability-minded DTC brand Everlane.

2022

Backcountry's long-awaited spring opening puts the outdoor in our favorite outdoor shopping center.

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