674 S King St.
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 as we secured a storefront for Pylon just a few doors down in the same historical Milwaukee Building, we were always looking up. And imagining. What could it be? So in August, when word circulated that the 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. Seattle needs more places where artists and makers have license and leeway to innovate and expand, 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.
Trusting in the notion that we could build a practical and expressive new world convenience mart that would support local talent and the neighborhood’s economy, we reopened the storefront at 674 S. King at the tail end of 2020. We dubbed it simply Gift Shop and began encouraging local makers to imagine how their work might pay homage to the lineage of souvenirs, curios, novelties, and holiday provisions that have filled the space over the years. We also asked them more broadly how they could use Gift Shop to develop their voice, their ideas, and their reach—because sometimes what visionaries need most is four walls and an invitation.
We are now open on the weekends, with a limited capacity, serving tea and espresso. We’ve assembled a selection of specialty pantry items, used books, and vinyl records which, at the time of this writing, sit alongside a neighborhood-focused tee-shirt collaboration and some pieces from one of our favorite Japanese designers. As plans for design pop-ups, special events, and immersive installations emerge, percolate, and come to life, we’re thrilled and grateful to foster a retail platform that adds more color, joy, and music to one of Seattle’s very best blocks.