- Bellevue, Washington is in one of the richest metro areas in America.
- It’s home to tech moguls and billionaires like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
- I went to The Shops at Bravern, Bellevue’s most high-end luxury shopping mall which is located near a Microsoft campus, to see what the shopping experience is like.
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Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Steve Ballmer – these are just some of the ultra-rich tech moguls that reside in Bellevue, Washington, a city of around 150,000 people just across a lake from Seattle.
Bellevue’s median listed home price is $US925,000 according to Zillow, which is more than double Washington State’s median listing price of $US425,000 and around four times the US median listing price of $US226,800.
Why is Bellevue so expensive? Tech companies like Microsoft, T-Mobile, and Expedia have headquarters in the city. And that’s just in Bellevue. In nearby Seattle, Amazon’s headquarters have transformed a former warehouse district into a metropolis of shiny towers, not to mention the smaller branches of companies like Facebook, Uber, and Twitter. Before China instituted new rules limiting the purchase of real estate abroad, Seattle was also the top destination for Chinese homebuyers.
I went to The Shops at Bravern, the most expensive mall in Bellevue and a Microsoft campus, to see what it’s like to shop there.
The Shops at Bravern’s designer-only lineup is housed in palatial storefronts.
I was excited that I could afford the $US7 valet parking, even though I don’t own a car.
There are three reasons to visit the Bravern: you work at Microsoft, you’re rich and looking to burn cash, or both.
If a store directory could give you sticker shock, this one would do it.
I started at Cafe Trophy, which is an upscale cafe selling local Trophy-brand gourmet cupcakes.
The cafe also sold baked goods, local gifts, and bubbly to go with your cupcakes, baked goods, and local gifts.
Cupcakes cost $US4.50 or more depending on the flavour.
The cafe also sold macarons for $US2.50 a pop. Yes, that is edible silver on those pink macarons.
The cosmic purple ones were named “Milky Way”.
These Instagrammable cupcakes, titled “Circus Animals,” were ready for their close-up.
When I went into the Hermes store, a representative followed me around to make sure I didn’t take pictures. Hermes is a popular target of luxury goods counterfeiters and recently participated in a counterfeiting sting operation against two of its own employees.
The Fashion Law
However, she did tell me that a majority of the store’s customers were from mainland China.
The Bravern’s flagship store is naturally the luxe department store chain: Neiman Marcus.
Marble floors, glowing ceilings, and local art installations everywhere — Neiman Marcus doesn’t have to say “you must be this rich to shop here.” It’s understood.
Departments are divided by brand, with each designer receiving their own nook and sales representative.
These simple, classy totes caught my eye.
But the price tag said, “Leave, and don’t look back.”
Filmmaker/fashion designer/superman of the future Tom Ford had his own nook, but I dared not approach.