Starting at the east end of the strip, at Ballard Avenue and 20th, first pop into (1) Monster Art and Clothing, a trove for quirky oddities, such as a bronze meat-cleaver necklace, spirited toe socks or a hand-printed octopus shirt. With a stock emphasizing Northwest designs (owner Tara Smith herself runs organic clothing line Revival Ink), Monster exudes a natural, bohemian vibe, with ever-popular shift dresses by Synergy ($64) and local crafter TrilbyMade’s wide reversible leather cuffs ($35, shown below).
Photo by Mariana Kajlich
Heading north, keep your eyes peeled for (2) Drygoods Design’s petite sign in the window of Anchored Ship Coffee Bar (formerly known as Cugini); tucked in next to the bar is Keli Faw’s teensy fabric outpost. In addition to cheery print fabrics (polka dot! chevron! graphic!) for your next craft project, pick up a set of fabric coasters ($20/set of five), a colorful print bib and burp cloth set ($25) or chevron napkins ($28 for four) all from in-house line, Bread & Salt.
Hopping farther north towards 22nd Street, you’ll discover the all-star lineup of (3) Camelion Design, (4) LUCCA Great Finds and (5) Ballard Home Comforts, all bursting with gift ideas. (We especially enjoy the somewhat random but pleasant handbag selection at Home Comforts, where owner Cheryl O’Connor is quick to offer helpful advice about her ’hood.)
Flanking Horseshoe (see no. 7) with two boutiques, husband-and-wife team Jenny and Jake Monroe have both ladies and gents covered: At Jenny’s (6) Damsalfly, eclectic fashions echo vintage shapes, and are offered up at screaming prices (with dresses starting at $35). And though the back section of (8) Jax Joon contains dapper jackets, jaunty caps and other manly accessories, it’s nigh impossible to get past the insanely fun selection of throw pillows ($30–$50) clustered at the front of the shop.
Swing open the wooden fence door to Jill Andersen’s (7) Horseshoe and blaze a trail through the kicky cowgirl boots, Prairie Underground hoodies, Indian-summer-ready frocks (we’re particularly enthralled with brightly patterned Eva Franco dresses, $218–$298), and graphic-print Collina Strada wallets ($58) and handbags (from $278).
Rounding the corner, take a gander at the dramatic reproduction costume jewels dripping inside (9) Filthy Rich of Seattle, and then peek at Ballard jewelry superstar Amy Bixby’s organic-inspired earrings at local art collective (10) Venue, before stopping into neighborhood landmark Blackbird.
Nicole Black’s stylish empire extends to three spaces—just northeast of the ’bird, the former Ella Mon space is now (11) Blackbird Apothecary, flush with beauty finds, such as Malin+Goetz rum bar soaps ($10) and Prospector Co.’s woodsy-scented beard oil ($28); classic (12) Blackbird is a favorite for American heritage brands such as Filson, Wings + Horn and Obey, plus Blackbird’s own in-house line. The corner triangle space has had multiple lives (including as a candy shop), and is currently stocking black-and-white dishware from Laura Zindel.
Take a Ballard Avenue break with a half-block excursion up to (13) Velouria on Market Street. Although still flush with dainty jewelry and locally made garments by faves Lekkerlife, Una and Out of Line, new owners Cat Wilcox and Chika Eustace (who bought the shop back in January) have also added extra sass via Make It Good’s colorful undies ($19-$45) and enamel fox necklaces from Flora and Fawn ($75).
If you tire on your way back down the avenue, take a breather in the gorgeous (14) Curtis Steiner space, in front of its wall of soothingly pretty handmade cards ($6.50 each).
Photo by Mariana Kajlich
Down the block in the former (15) Clover space (the cute toy and kids’ wear boutique has moved to larger digs a few doors away), the spirit of the defunct Field House is channeled at Debra Kahwaty’s and Jacqueline Mcloughlin’s (16) Trouvaille (“lucky find” in French; shown above) boutique, which they opened late last spring. The shop is heavy on menswear, including hearty plaid button-ups, and features consignment suit jackets of excellent quality (around $75), vintage boiled wool Rafe bags ($250) and Ralph Lauren luggage sets ($2,500).
Two-year-old (17) Ketch exudes a NYC-maven-turned-laidback-Seattleite vibe; favorite finds include House of Harlow golden pendants ($65), crop-fit denim by Joe’s Jeans ($165) and Osborn florescent printed ballet flats ($150).
Park and go
Parking has become a challenge here, but the lucky nab two-hour free parking on Ballard Avenue. Metered parking on side streets is usually easy to find on weekdays, but on weekends—and busy twilight hours as the myriad restaurants and bars open—we head straight for 20th Avenue in the block between Ballard Avenue and Leary for non-metered, non-time-constrained spots.
This tight-knit neighborhood often puts on special shopping events (keep an eye on trusty myballard.com for dates); some boutiques also offer special sales and discounts during Ballard’s Second Saturday Art Walk (ballardchamber.com), held the second weekend of each month from 6 to 9 p.m.