Seattle has always been a trendsetter of sorts: first with grunge music and the coffeehouse craze, and then with its burgeoning startup scene.
Today the Pacific Northwest city continues to set trends with innovative new businesses.
We found the 23 coolest small businesses in Seattle. The list includes a top new bakery, a paper shredding company, and a kind of boat that people used to only dream of.
What it is: An online events board.
Why it's cool: This startup has local events boards online with the goal of making unforgettable experiences happen more often. People or companies post events from movie screenings to concerts to boat trips. You can browse events to see what interests you, or follow the boards that create events you enjoy attending. The business is social in that you can see which events are most popular and who is attending them.
What it is: A toy shop and 'mecca' for weird toys.
Why it's cool: Archie McPhee is the toy store in Seattle for kids and grownups alike. People come for party favours, gag gifts, pranks, candy, and the more 'typical' toys and games. Archie McPhee also offers birthday and bridal gift registries, and sells a collection of funny and alternative wedding cake toppers.
What it is: A handbag rental service.
Why it's cool: Bag Borrow or Steal gained a huge amount of publicity and some of its 'coolness' factor thanks to the first Sex and the City movie. But what really makes it cool is that instead of having to purchase expensive luxury bags, you can rent them. It's a great service for people who want to try a bag out before buying it, for people who need who need a bag for a special occasion, or for those who have constantly evolving tastes.
What it is: A sophisticated movie theatre.
Why it's cool: Big Picture is an upscale movie theatre that shows old and new films and serves you fancy food and drinks--try the truffle popcorn or the 'Den of Sin,' a chocolate cocktail--while you watch. Businesses also rent out space at Big Picture for corporate meetings in either the main theatre or any one of its themed meeting rooms.
What it is: A classic bakery with intense flavours.
Why it's cool: With croissants, filled-to-order cream puffs, cinnamon rolls, scones, and other delicious options, Crumble and Flake has become so popular that it often sells out before noon. Closed Monday and Tuesday, be sure to get there early and try the 'Cheweo,' a play on an Oreo, but with more intensity and real butter as a filling.
What it is: A social network for gamers.
Why it's cool: Duxter is a social network specifically for gamers. Other social networks, such as Facebook, are not tailored for these gamers, who can find a supportive community and praise for their gaming accomplishments. Duxter also allows for users to earn rewards points on gear and games.
What it is: A gargoyle shop.
Why it's cool: This store sells gargoyles and other statues made by both local and national artists. The shop has a fire sale every Valentine's Day to commemorate a tragic fire years ago that damaged a lot of their inventory. But rather than throw away the damaged gargoyles, the shop sold them at a discount, and a new tradition was born.
What it is: A social vacation-planning website.
Why it's cool: Gatherball keeps track of what you want to do, where you want to go, and what you want to see. It also shares this information with everyone in your network, who can make suggestions to your itinerary. It also has a feature that keeps track of individual spending, so if you go on a trip with other people you will easily know who owes money at the end of the trip.
1712 1st Avenue S.What it is: An artfully crafted vodka company.
Why it's cool: Unlike other vodkas, which are usually made with grains or potatoes, Glass Vodka is distilled from locally grown grapes. In addition to supporting the local grape-growing community, Glass Vodka supports the region's talented glassblowing artists, and the bottle itself is its own work of art.
What it is: An environmentally-friendly invitation service.
Why it's cool: Greenvelope was created with the environment in mind. Tens of thousands of trees need to be cut down each year to create paper invitations, so Greenvelope enables users to send 'paper-like' invitations via the web that save trees but still look great. Greenvelope also donates a percentage of proceeds to the charity Mountains to Sound, a Seattle-based environment conservation organisation.
What it is: A company that makes floating hot tub boats.
Why it's cool: Hot Tub Boats can be bought by hot tub enthusiasts, or rented hourly. With easy manoeuvrability and seating for up to six, sitting in a lake becomes even more comfortable and relaxing.
What it is: A boutique hotel.
Why it's cool: The building, completed in 1926, served as a transfer station for the Women's Army Corps from 1945 to 1947. It wasn't until the '70s that it was first used as a hotel, but when the building was remodeled in 2004 with a mix of Scandinavian and Pacific Northwest design influences, it became the Hotel Andra guests know today.
What it is: A steampunk-looking food truck.
Why it's cool: One of the coolest things about this truck is the truck itself, which serves up some of the best pulled pork sandwiches in the Northwest from a truck the shape of a giant, metal pig. Owner Kurt Beecher Dammeier, of Beecher's Handmade Cheese, ensures a commitment to pure food by donating one per cent of sales to the Flagship Foundation, a non-profit that inspires kids to make smart eating choices.
What it is: An old-fashioned paper retailer.
Why it's cool: This shop specialises in vintage advertising, poster art, maps, magazines, and newspapers. Old Seattle Paperworks owner John Hanawalt left home at the age of 16 and worked as an antiques picker, but graduated from antiques picker to antiques dealer when he opened up OSP at the age of 22, settling in the historic Pike Place Market.
What it is: A Pacific Northwest Native American curio shop.
Why it's cool: This shop offers jewelry, home décor, and other treasures from mainly Pacific Northwest Native American and Asian cultures. They focus on affordable and authentic goods that make great gifts.
What it is: An educational caviar shop.
Why it's cool: The Seattle Caviar Company makes caviar accessible to all those with a desire to learn about this delicacy. In addition to selling caviar, the company hosts tastings every Thursday evening out of its retail shop where visitors can come and sample caviar with a glass of champagne and learn about the products.
What it is: Affordable, sustainable clothing for women.
Why it's cool: SPUN focuses on casual, stylish, and affordable clothing. It sources its organic cotton and other materials mostly from within Washington State, boasting the best of local fashion. Owner Sara Seumae donates a portion of annual sales to non-profits and local organisations.
What it is: An art gallery and home décor store.
Why it's cool: This gallery features the works of two distinct artists, and also jewelry, furniture, and other items that will make your home unique. Visitors love Square Room because it's 'pretty much a museum where you can buy what's on display,' according to one Yelp reviewer.
What it is: A chemical-free steam cleaning service.
Why it's cool: Using locally-built trucks and equipment, Steam and Clean sterilizes everything from garbage cans to driveways without using chemicals or detergents. Instead, it uses high pressure steam at 3000 PSI and 250 degrees Fahrenheit to kill bacteria. It also filters the wastewater on the spot and reuses it, eliminating both wasted water and contaminated runoff.
What it is: A speakeasy-type bar.
Why it's cool: Tavern Law specialises in dark liquor and champagne, but offers classic cocktails in addition to its seasonal menu. Bar-goers get their stunning drinks from some of the best mixologists in Seattle, who can make exactly what you like just by telling them what you're in the mood for. While Tavern Law is pretty exclusive in and of itself, it's rumoured to have an even more secret room above the bar.
What it is: An industrial strength shredder company.
Why it's cool: These industrial strength shredders are located in grocery stores around the city and can destroy stacks of documents quickly and inexpensively, decreasing the probability of identity theft and ensuring safety of confidential information in a more efficient manner than personal shredders.
What it is: A unique luxury boutique.
Why it's cool: This boutique has plenty of international designers in addition to the up-and-coming labels that you would normally only find in fashion centres like New York. In addition to clothes for all seasons, they have a huge supply of shoes and other accessories.
What it is: A Creole kitchen and lounge.
Why it's cool: This popular happy hour spot, which won Trip Advisor's 2012 traveller's Choice Award, serves New Orleans-inspired fare. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and features menu items such as marinated rabbit salad and Dungeness crab with fried green tomatoes.
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