A Deli and A Gem

Last night some friends accompanied my husband and I to First Thursday in Pioneer Square for the monthly art walk. Pioneer Square was the first place to hold an Art Walk in the country back in 1981 (the year of Mt. St Helens eruption and the year before I was born). A group of art dealers banded together to promote their goods, passing out maps and painting footprints on the sidewalk outside their galleries to direct people.

Although I was not drawn by much of the art I saw wandering around 619 (although I would sell my favorite Match mug for one of their elevator doors)

I was captivated by two shops breaking retail rules:

1. Gems Sneakershop: Walking down Western I thought I’d stumbled upon a tiny candy shop until I saw a back wall mysteriously open and a charming and mischievous smile peek out from behind the door.

Owner John Mooney motioned us behind the wall, and we found ourselves in his uber-hip shoe shop hidden behind.

The candy is just a front, although Mooney claims he’s busy serving candy to businessmen and women all day long (there’s been a ruckus or two when he’s been out of their favorites). The back room is graphic and felt like a gallery, with shoes displayed under minimalistic uplighting like Elizabeth Taylor’s emeralds in a museum. He says a new false front will be coming soon, and I’ll definitely be back to see what he comes up with.

2. The Deli: The owner, Max Heist, had the brilliant idea of naming his shop “The Deli,” but instead of salami sandwiches sells independent contemporary fashion designs. Genius. Clothes are housed in deli cases, t-shirts displayed on racks of sheet pans. They were pouring drinks and their DJ was playing music from the 30’s. My husband and his wardrobe are going to benefit from this discovery.

(Flyer for the event last night)


  1. Very cool! Small retail shops have do be creative in ways like this to keep competitive with larger (and often better priced) stores. Design is becoming a huge part of that. Hmm.. sort of like salvaging old furniture to build a wine store. Sorry, this will be my fist and last shameless plug! Check it out here: http://www.ddimagazine.com/displayanddesignideas/slideshow/slideshow.jsp?slideshowId=161745

  2. I will live vicariously (is that how I spell that ?) through you and your blog! Sounds amazing!