The Chinatown-International District feels to us like a beautifully cacophonous symphony—a sensorial call-and-response of multilingual neon, global treasures, and hypnotic flavors. And yet the unlit, quiet sign on Seventh and King has always stood out. The words “GIFT SHOP” are almost all that’s still legible, but somehow it manages to bookmark a distant time and hold open a portal to another place.
In the early months of the pandemic we secured a storefront for Gift Shop’s sibling shop, Pylon, just a few doors down in the same iconic Milwaukee Building. Throughout that process, we were always looking up at the historic sign and imagining. What could it be? So in August, when word circulated that the corner space was becoming available—and that an out-of-town chain restaurant wanted to move in—we knew we could create something special while also helping retain the mom-and-pop character that’s so important to the area. Because after all, Seattle needs more places where artists and makers have license and leeway to try out new ideas and connect with the community, and the C-ID can definitely use a warm spot to grab a craft-roasted espresso or a bottle of natural wine while waiting for a takeout order.
At the tail end of 2020, we reopened the space at 674 S. King with limited capacity and limited hours and dubbed it simply Gift Shop.Trusting that we could build an expressive new world convenience mart that would support local talent and the hyperlocal economy, we began asking makers to imagine how they might pay homage to the storefront’s lineage of souvenirs and curios while also developing their voice and their reach.
We are now open five days a week serving tea and espresso, and offering a selection of specialty pantry items, used books, vinyl records, and an idiosyncratic selection of streetwear, small batch designer clothing, vintage clothes, and home goods. We frequently transform our space as we host design pop-ups, hands-on gatherings, specialty food events, and immersive installations.
And as we watch the energy and activity vary and expand day to day and morning to night, we have more and more resolve to be directly additive to the businesses around us. With this in mind, we made a decision to invest all of our profits back into the C-ID. Each quarter we shift our net funds to business owners, advocacy groups, and other key area stakeholders—always in deference to expressed needs and direct challenges and opportunities. We’re thrilled and grateful to foster a retail platform that adds more color, joy, music, and stability to one of Seattle’s most vital neighborhoods.
Fri & Sat 10-7
Mon & Tues Closed
674 King Street
Seattle, WA, 98105