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2005 Favorites - Shopping & Buying

From brunch to bike-riding, readers name their favorites For the second year, we asked ParentMap readers to share their favorite places to shop, eat, play and get away from it all. The responses were diverse, delightful and -- in most cases -- not surprising to those of us raising our families here. Living in a region known for gray, wet skies -- as well as a typically glorious mid-summer stretch of warm days -- our readers have favorite places to chase away the gloom (coffee shops, libraries and museums) and welcome the sun (parks, beaches and biking trails).

For shopping and eating, reader choices leaned toward national and regional chains, but in certain categories, independently owned businesses got the nod. In all cases, readers provided fresh ideas for everything from cheap family entertainment to quick, healthy dining. To further enhance the list, we also asked contributing writers and staff to come up with some personal favorites of their own.
By publishing this issue, we hope that you will find some new favorites that you can share with your family. Enjoy!

-- Teresa Wippel, managing editor

Favorite kids' bookstore

Once again, readers chose the Barnes & Noble chain (in several cases, specifically citing the Barnes & Noble in University Village, 206-517-4107) as their favorite bookstore for kids. In second place was All for Kids Books & Music (2900 N.E. Blakeley, behind University Village in Seattle, 206-526-2768, www.allforkidsbooks.com). Voters also mourned the recent closure of independent bookstore Hullabaloo Books in West Seattle, naming it as a favorite nonetheless. Runner-up: Secret Garden Bookshop in Ballard (2214 N.W. Market St., Seattle, 206-789-5006, www.secretgardenbooks.com).

Favorite mall or neighborhood to shop with kids
For the second year, University Village (206-523-0622, www.uvillage.com) was voted the overwhelming favorite mall or neighborhood to shop with kids. The diverse mixture of stores, restaurants and family friendly activities -- all in an open-air, urban setting -- make this a favorite destination for ParentMap readers, and many of the businesses located in U Village were winners in other Favorites categories. Runners up: Bellevue Square (425-454-8096, www.bellevuesquare.com) and Alderwood Mall (425-771-1211, www.alderwoodmall.com).

Favorite consignment store

Let's face it, kids grow more quickly than their clothes wear out. That's why many families turn to consignment stores for gently used clothing at a fraction of the cost of new. ParentMap readers again this year chose A Child's Closet (5025 25th Ave. N.E., Suite 105, 206-985-4402) as their favorite spot for children's consignment clothing. Runners up: Kids on 45th (1720 N. 45th St., Seattle, 206-633-5437) and Me 'n Moms (2821B N.W. Market St., Seattle, 206-781-9449).

Favorite store to buy a kid's birthday present
Your child just received a last-minute invitation to a classmate's birthday party and the search is on for that unique gift. Our readers this year chose Top Ten Toys (104 N. 85th St., Seattle, 206-782-0098, www.toptentoys.com) as their favorite store for birthday presents, and no wonder -- the store in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood offers everything from rubber band-powered airplanes to build-your-own robot kits. Running close behind in the voting was national chain Target and independent toy seller Curious Kidstuff in West Seattle (4740 California Ave. S.W., 206-937-8788, www.curiouskidstuff.com).

Favorite store to buy kids' special-occasion clothes

Whether it's a fancy dress for Aunt Mary's wedding or a child-size suit for cousin John's graduation, voters overwhelmingly picked home-grown national chain Nordstrom as their favorite place to find special-occasion clothes for the younger set. Runner up: The Gap.

Favorite place to go shopping with your teen-age daughter
Shopping with a teen girl presents its own set of joys and challenges: Where to find clothes and accessories that please ever-changing teen tastes AND meet mom's approving eye? Bellevue Square (425-454-8096, www.bellevuesquare.com) got the nod from ParentMap readers, with Nordstrom (which, of course, has a store IN Bel-Square) coming in second.

Staff Favorites: Shopping & Buying
Favorite bookstore for losing your kids in the aisles
Whether nutty for kids' books and music, or just eager to edify your offspring, you'll get your fix at All for Kids Books and Music. The proudly independent bookstore, which caters to kids of all ages (including adults), is loosely organized by category and, in places, alphabetically. You might easily find what you're looking for or, better yet, bump into 10 even juicier items. Beyond books and music, the store pedals passion. I'll pay for that. 2900 N.E. Blakeley St. near University Village, Seattle. 206-526-2768; http://allforkidsbooks.booksense.com.

Favorite kite place

Gasworks Park Kite Shop welcomes, dazzles and bemuses. Novelty toys, wind socks and, of course, kites flail and spin amid vibrant blue walls and an ambience of palpable cheer. The sales staff knowledgeably demonstrates use of the stuff. What's best, Gasworks Park is right in the neighborhood. Pack a picnic and you're off! 3420 Stone Way N., Seattle. 206-633-4780; www.gasworksparkkiteshop.com.

Favorite artsy threads

If you've ever considered rearing more children just to keep adorable children's clothes in your life, then you must visit Boston St. More than clothes, the artisans' outpost sells toys, bath supplies and baby shower gifts, all in a giddy array of patterns and materials. Prices range from fancy to practical. Mothers will swoon over the $5 and $10 racks of Cotton Caboodle comfiest-ever garments almost as much as the reversible pants, shorts and skirts. Read: half the laundry. 1902 Post Alley in Pike Place Market, Seattle. 206-634-0580.

Favorite outlet store

There is nothing like a good, old-fashioned metric conversion problem to remind you why you attended junior high. At Hanna Andersson, you get to refigure your child's clothing sizes according to Hanna's Swedish sizing system. Conversion charts sit atop each rack, to help with this. Even more fun, walk out with mom-tot (or pop-tot) matching, environmentally friendly jammies that prove durable, wash after wash after wash. Gotta' love it. 13620 N.E. 175th St. #114 in Woodinville Center, Woodinville. 425-485-7998; www.hannaandersson.com. -- Natasha Petroff

Favorite mother-daughter shopping off the beaten path

Sick of the malls? Love to find cool stuff at bargain prices? Come to Seattle's Roosevelt neighborhood and explore its many second-hand and consignment shops.

Start north of Northeast 65th Street on Northeast Roosevelt Way and stop in at Found It (6820 Roosevelt Way N.E., 206-517-5047, www.thefounditshop.com) for cool housewares from piggy banks to salt and pepper shakers. This is a great place to find kitchenware and knick knacks for your college kid's first apartment. Next door is the ACS Discovery Shop (6814 Roosevelt Way N.E., 206-524-3399) where amidst the "old lady" clothing you can find some cool costume jewelry, bags and kitchenware at dirt-cheap prices. Venture further south on Roosevelt to Cloud 9 Consignment (6518 Roosevelt Way N.E., 206-525-4440, www.cloud9consign.org); look for the color-coded tag "markdowns" for the best bargains. Be sure to cross the street and browse the crowded racks of women's and teen clothes at Oh Bella (6507 Roosevelt Way N.E., 206-523-1083).

Head around the corner onto Northeast 65th Street and check out The Last White Elephant (902 N.E. 65th St., 206-525-0170, proceeds benefit the Northwest Animal Rights Network) where there's a hodgepodge of clothing, accessories and housewares at bargain prices. A few doors down is the neighborhood's newest gem: Urban Consigner (814 N.E. 65th St., 2nd floor, 206-522-3416, www.urbanconsigner.com) where the clothes, shoes and accessories are all carefully consigned and attractively displayed; this little shop is a great mother-daughter shopping destination where both can find something cute. Shirazi (6408 Roosevelt Way N.E., 206-529-0391) carries unique clothing for parties and proms; the purses and accessories are also fun. (For Eastside residents, Shirazi also has a store inside Bellevue's Crossroads Shopping Center,15600 N.E. 8th St., 425-644-0604.) -- Emily Johnson

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