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Neighborhood raves

Yeah, we get around. When you have a staff of two dozen dialed-in, decked-out moms, you have a shopping shine that can’t be stopped. This time of year, we fan out into neighborhoods all around the Sound, toting tots and trailing Goldfish crackers, burnin’ up the bank accounts, scooping up the loot for holiday gifts and entertaining.

Just like you, we know what we want and we have our favorite haunts: places where we get the job done; places that welcome our slobbery progeny with open arms — or at least tolerance and a treat. Most of these shops are locally owned places that hunt down, wrap and deliver those gifts, with employees who know what we need and when we need it: yesterday! Hey, shopping should be fun, even with baby in tow and dried oatmeal on your yoga pants.

So here are our fave shopping raves, contributed by ParentMap staff and writers who live — and shop — in the neighborhoods. If we missed your favorite, let us know at Enjoy!  

— Kristen Dobson


Secret Garden Books
We like this bookshop for its support of local authors, its quirky window displays, its partnership with the new Ballard library, its dedication to kids’ lit (even though it’s now a bookstore for grown-ups, too), its quick delivery of special orders, but mostly we love their smart staff. 2214 N.W. Market St., Seattle; 206-789-5006,

Market Street Shoes
Ballard’s new shoe store has a wide selection of shoes in various price ranges for adults and kids. It always has some fun styles. 2215 N.W. Market St., Seattle; 206-783-1670,

Clover Toy Store
No Barbies here. You’ll find lots of European and wooden toys, crafts and musical instruments. It also sells unique baby gear and gifts. 5335 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle; 206-782-0715,

Olivine Atelier
Across the street from Clover, Olivine welcomes kids — the staff even lets them try out the hair trinkets and jewels. It’s just the place to find festive and chic holiday frocks for mom; one woman bought a dress at Olivine to wear to a wedding in Venice, which elicited more than a few reception compliments — bellissima! 5344 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle; 206-706-4188,

Mon Petit Shoe
At this clothing and shoe store for kids, the baby clothes are sweet, and the big kids’ clothes are stylish. Nearly all the clothes and shoes in this shop are ones you probably won’t find anywhere else. The shoes come in styles from whimsical to practical, and it also carries some handmade local products. 2236 N.W. Market St., Seattle; 206-784-1144.

You can buy a set of green glass water goblets from France, a chic wool felt purse, and a retro-style baby gift all in this one store. It has a large selection of unique linens, china and glassware as well as jewelry, journals, pillows, candles and other fun stuff. Not a great place for young children (too many breakables), but the staff is cool and accommodating to kids. 2220 N.W. Market St., Seattle; 206-782-5846,

Archie McPhee
Looking for fuzzy dice? “Free Ballard” paraphernalia? Lava lamp? Odd trinkets? Archie McPhee’s is just lovably weird. Once located in Fremont, now in a much larger Ballard location, Archie’s is a holdover from these formerly funky neighborhoods. One mom took four fairly truculent adolescent boys to Archie’s on a rainy day, gave them each $10 and let them loose. They thought they had gone to heaven. 2428 N.W. Market St., Seattle; 206-297-0240,

La Tienda
Formerly housed in the U District, La Tienda now calls Ballard home. Find unique and gorgeous jewelry, clothing, and art from around the world. Get on the store’s mailing list for special events and notification of its annual sidewalk sale. 2050 N.W. Market St., Seattle; 206-297-3605,

Up-and-coming Columbia City rates high with PM staff as a one-stop place to shop for gifts. A tree lighting ceremony early in December — complete with hot cocoa and caroling — starts the season with a festive bang. The ever-growing list of remarkable shops and restaurants is starting to rival the Central District — and with better parking!

The Bookworm Exchange
Laid out like a collector’s fine library, this store features extra-tall shelves filled with an ever-changing selection of gently used books in all genres. Older kids can climb the ladder to hunt for treasures. “I never cease to be amazed at what I can find there — like the out-of-print history of the Sea Bees that I got for my dad,” says ParentMap writer Andie Ptak. The store also has a choice selection of signed first editions, an ample children’s section and even a small but well chosen offering of new books. 4860 Rainier Ave. S., 206-722-6633

Looking for that “definitely not from the mall” special something for a female friend or relative? Head to this tiny, eclectic boutique, jam-packed with trendy, and sometimes quirky, gifts that range from locally made jewelry to imported sweaters. “Last Christmas I got tons of stocking stuffers there for my 12-year-old, including 3-D cat playing cards and fabulous fuzzy socks,” says Ptak. 4908 Rainier Ave. S., 206-760-1900

Retroactive Kids
The bright and airy space is definitely kid-friendly and features the kinds of quality toys and vintage-style clothing you’d normally see in high-end shops (think Top 10 Toys meets The Wooden Soldier). The store also boasts a selection of high-quality, refurbished clothing for that one-of-a-kind special gift and hand-knit sweaters made by neighborhood moms. The space is also home to a second branch of W Seattle Kids Hair Salon, featuring salon chairs in the guise of airplanes and such — a place that keeps the kids busy while you shop! 4859 Rainier Ave. S., 206-932-3154

Columbia City Gallery
The very savvy curators at this gallery always make a point of stocking “small works” around the holiday season for gift giving, such as unique hand-crafted pewter ornaments or gorgeous hand-painted scarves. 4864 Rainier Ave. S.; 206-760-9843,

Pet Elegance Bath House and Boutique
For the four-legged creatures on your list, there’s no better place. The shop features its own line of designer collars, harnesses and leashes, plus only the highest-quality foods and treats — including one case devoted to yummy-looking doggie delights from Three Dog Bakery. In addition to an assortment of pet toys, clothing and accessories, there’s also a nice selection of gifts for the animal lover. Shared space with a groomer (Canine Designs) allows you to drop off your dog for a bit of pampering while you shop. 4863 Rainier Ave. S.; 206-721-9295,

KC’s Flowers
A combination florist/gift shop, KC’s is filled with elegant arrangements, trendy décor items, cards and stationery, and a huge selection of unique gift wrap. Plus, its large and well-designed display windows and historic architecture evoke holiday streets of old — a definite enhancement to the shopping experience. 4873 Rainier Ave. S.; 206-722-2200,

Here’s a neighborhood that really welcomes kids! Every Halloween, you’ll find hundreds of little goblins and Skywalkers passing up and down the Ave to trick or treat. But the Queen really gets regal on Dec. 7 with the Holiday Magic celebration, featuring live entertainment, a tree lighting, and special events and treats inside the shops.

Blue Highway Games
It’s impossible to walk past this lovely little store without getting sucked in, and once inside, you can noodle around with fascinated pleasure for hours. This wonderful new store is stocked with the best games you’ll ever find that don’t require batteries, a high tolerance for plastic, or love of SpongeBob and his ilk. Bring your kids to Family Game Day, Sundays from 3 to 5 p.m. and let someone else read the directions for a change! (Note: No FGDs when there is a home Seahawks game.) 2203 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle; 206-282-0540.

Urban Kids Play
Tucked inside a charming little house on the other end of the Ave, Urban Kids is packed with high-quality toys, kits and baby gear. 1805 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle; 206-285-PLAY,

Once Upon a Time on Queen Anne
There’s so much to look at in this shop, another converted house with lots of little rooms chockfull of wonderful stuff for kids. 1622 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle, 206-284-7260

Queen Anne Books
Walk through its door and you’re at the center of the universe for All Things Wonderful. We love the friendly, knowledgeable staff, the free gift wrapping, and that pleasant surprise at the register when our “frequent flyer” card hits the tipping point (buy 12 items at full price, get the average cost taken off on your next purchase — wow!). Fast turnaround on special orders, a well-stocked kids’ section, and a super high-octane latte shop next door (El Diablo) makes this a perfect spot to knock a few names off your list. 1811 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle; 206-283-5624,

Lily’s Pampering Salon & Party Boutique
The name says it all. Here’s a place to take care of numero uno (your daughter, who else?) during this hectic holiday season. She’s been such a good girl; why not treat her to a mom-and-me indulgence: a mini-pedi, haircut or up-do, complete with pink seltzer? Kewl! 1509 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle; 206-282-4567,


Flora and Henri — outlet Store
Gorgeous clothing at marked-down prices. 808 E Roy St., Seattle; 206-749-0004,

Izilla Toys
A perennial favorite among our readers, Izilla is now adding a separate book store. They offer complimentary wrap for all presents big and small, and a great selection of “present toppers” at the counter. 1429 12th Ave., Seattle; 206-322-8697,


Sur la Table
Great for kids’ cookbooks and unique cookie cutters. 84 Pine St., Seattle; 206-448-2244,

Boston Street Children’s Everything Store
Adorable clothing — much of it locally made. 1902 Post Alley, Seattle; 206-634-0580


Flora and Henri — flagship store
Just delicious togs for your tots, great gifts, and hot chocolate for all during the holidays. 717 Pine St.; Seattle, 206-749-9698,


Two Owls
A new toy shop with some of the best European toys and organic cotton clothing in the city. Great selection of Melissa & Doug wooden toy sets. 3308 E. Spring St. Seattle, 206-624-2182,


The Original Children’s Shop
A great selection of classic pieces and wonderful toys and plush animals. 4216 E Madison St., Seattle, 206-328-7121,


Georgia Blu
Kids love the cute fenced-in play area; moms love the great selection of trendy gifts and stylish baby and kids’ clothes. 4707 California Ave. S.W., Seattle, 206-935-4499

Curious Kidstuff
This is a great place to find nonviolent toys, games, books, stuffed animals and more. Kids of all ages are welcome to play at one of the many sensory tables set up around the store. Upstairs in the loft is The Little Artist, a great art school for little Picassos ages 1 and older, featuring a drop-in toddler art time. 4740 California Ave. S.W., Seattle; 206-935-4185,


Goodie Gumdrops
This toy store hosts a family game night, a party room, great free gift wrapping and a large selection of toys, games, penny candy and original things for kids. “Our kids adore it when we pull up in front of this amazing store,” says ParentMap ad sales manager Toddy Dyer. 816 S.W. 152nd St., Burien; 206-838-1099,


Maxine’s Floral and Gift
Maxine’s is a full-service floral design shop and oh-so-much more. The moment you walk in the door, you’re transported to a girly-girl world of flowers, fairies and frou-frou. Maxine hand-picks great gifts from places such as Paris and New York: soaps, candles, jewelry, clothes, decorative items and even a few great toys. Everything comes together with Maxine’s eye for color and design, and by the time you leave, you will want to redo your whole home to match her whimsical aesthetic! Maxine brings her parrots, Pom-pom and Pickle, to work with her, and she keeps canaries and parakeets in the shop, so your little one will have plenty to look at. 8811 Roosevelt Way N.E., Seattle; 206-523-4200,


Lamb’s Ears
Located on a side street just north of Bellevue Square, this little shop is packed with unique, indulgent and sweet clothing for kids, tots to tweens. It carries primarily European brands, including Jean Bourget, Catamini, Cakewalk and all the Petit Bateau you could hope for. 820 102nd Ave. N.E., Bellevue; 425-688-1080,

The Toy Place at Bellevue Art and Frame
This store-within-a-store offers an amazing selection of high-quality creative toys and games. Pick up some inspiring art supplies while you’re at it! 1024 116th Ave. N.E., Belleuve; 425-453-8959,


Island Books
A huge selection of kids’ books, an inviting playhouse, and a kid-friendly public bathroom make this book store a favorite for moms shopping with kids in tow. Check out the beautiful writing papers, journals and CDs, too. You’re sure to find a few things for those hard-to-shop-for folks on your list. 3014 78th Ave. S.E., Mercer Island; 206-232-6920,


Those quirky independent stores are great, but some moms prefer malls, especially when they’re on borrowed time with the stroller set. Here are a few you may not have tried.

Country Village in Bothell
A great spot for a family outing, the village contains more than 40 shops and restaurants, plus ponds, gardens and play areas complete with chickens, ducks and other animals. There is even a half-mile train ride for kids and adults for $3. Visit Bella and Max for upscale kids’ clothing and haircuts, and Toys that Teach for a thoughtful selection of toys. For a snack, check out the Peach Tree Bakery and Tea Room. For stores and directions, visit

Factory Stores at North Bend
This outlet mall has quite a few kids’ stores (most with a play area) and a great, kid-friendly restaurant across the street, Jay Berry’s Gourmet Pizza and Pasta. And you can’t beat those outlet prices! For stores and directions, visit

Kent Station
New and still growing, this shopping area in downtown Kent features lots of shops and restaurants. Stop by See’s Candies for a free sample, and check out the kids’ specials at the Ram restaurant. For stores and directions, visit

Mill Creek Town Center
The mall has a parklike setting and is nestled among the nature trails and creeks of a surrounding golf course community. The mall contains more than 70 stores, restaurants and services. Check out The Spotted Cow for homemade ice cream and a kids’ play area. There’s a lovely kids’ boutique, L’il Lads ‘n Lasses, which carries many upscale brands and holds fantastic sales. For stores and directions, visit

Compiled with love and shopping enthusiasm by the ParentMap staff and writers who live in these neighborhoods: Amy Araucto, Kris Collingridge, Kristen Dobson, Toddy Dyer, Laura Glass, Christine Johnson-Duell, Kimberly McDonald, Andie Ptak, Tracey Stewart and Cynthia Tannis.

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