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Seattle - Streetsmart : Shopping Tips, Eating & Accommodation Tips

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Shopping Tips

For any unresolved complaints on a product you have purchased, call the Better Business Bureau at 206 431 2222.


  1. Department Stores

    Although suburban shopping malls have the bulk of nationally recognized chain department stores, downtown shopping opportunities serve the needs of Seattle’s residents in a variety of ways. Find most of the larger stores, such as Nordstrom’s flagship store and Bon-Macy, centered in the Westlake Plaza area between 4th and 5th Avenues and Pike and Stewart Streets .

  2. Boutiques

    Discover one-of-a-kind designer wear at dozens of independent clothiers that specialize in high-end fashion or more adventurous apparel with an edge. Several designers such as Carol McClellan, Darbury Stenderu, and Couture have their own shops in Belltown and Fremont, and many upscale boutiques dot the 5th Avenue area south of Pike Street.

  3. Malls

    As with most United States cities, large malls need the expansive and cheaper real estate found only in suburbs or out­lying areas. However, there are smaller, somewhat pricey urban malls including Westlake Mall, Pacific Place, and Rainier Square. They also include familiar chain stores as well as locally owned ventures.

  4. Flea Markets & Thrift Shops

    If you like secondhand merchandise, you’ll find bargains all over town. Many neighborhoods, including Ballard and Fremont, have outdoor farmer’s markets on Sundays. There are also plenty of thrift shops; the best of these are Salvation Army, Value Village, and Seattle Goodwill, located on Capitol Hill and the ID.

    Salvation Army

    • 1010 4th Ave S

    Value Village

    • 1525 11th Ave

    Seattle Goodwill

    • Rainier Ave S & Dearborn St

  5. Garage & Sidewalk Sales

    Walk or drive through any neighborhood on weekend mornings and you’ll find a treasure trove of clothing, toys, furniture, and electronics up for sale. Look for large signs on telephone polls, or scour the newspaper classified ads to find appropriate listings.

  6. Bargaining

    Most consumers in the US shy away from bargaining tactics, but it really depends on the clerk, your powers of persuasion, and store policy. However, at flea markets and yard sales, it is common to negotiate for a better price.

  7. Sales Tax

    With the exception of groceries, all Seattle retail purchases are subject to combined state and city sales taxes of 8.6 percent.

  8. Convenience Stores

    It’s relatively common to find a convenience store in commercial areas, even in exclusive neighborhoods. They sell a little bit of everything from fresh produce to deli items, snack food and drink, toiletries, and general supply merchandise. Remember you would pay considerably more than in supermarkets or drugstores.

  9. Refunds

    Always find out a store’s policy on exchanging or returning items, or on obtaining credit. National chain stores often have a liberal return policy that may enable you to return goods at another branch once you’re back at home.

  10. Washington Attorney General’s Office Public Inquiry Unit

    If a retailer or service provider has dealt with you in an illegal fashion, do not hesitate to take your complaint here so that court proceedings can be initiated or sanctions be employed against the perpetrator.

    • 1 800 551 4636


Eating & Accommodation Tips

Taking home restaurant leftovers is not usually practical when you travel. Consider sharing meals or ordering small portions.


  1. Pacific Rim Cuisine

    In Seattle, this cuisine refers to fresh Pacific Northwest ingredients combined with the flavors and cooking techniques of countries bordering the Pacific Ocean. Chefs create masterpieces and signature dishes using sushi-grade fish, Kobe beef, ginger and soy-based sauces, and handmade noodles to complement US menu mainstays.

    Sushi
  2. Other Cuisines

    You can hardly walk a block without meeting up with a Thai restaurant. Mexican taquerias compete with establishments serving Spanish tapas, while French and Italian bistros still attract crowds. Indian restaurants often include Pakistani, Tibetan, and Nepalese dishes as well.

  3. Reservations

    It’s advisable to secure lunch or dinner reservations at formal or expensive restaurants, or at those with a view. Alternatively, consider dining at a non-peak hour, as getting a table anywhere special at noon or 6pm is a challenge.

  4. Drinks

    Washington has its share of award-winning vineyards. Better restaurants employ sommeliers to assist you in choosing wines to complement your meal, and they can also steer you toward a selection based on price. If beer or ale suits your taste, Washington has many microbreweries emulating the heavier British styles of ales and stouts, as well as crisp German lagers and Belgian Abbey ales.

    Red wine
  5. Tax & Tipping

    Restaurants add 9.3 percent sales tax to the total bill, and it’s considered gracious if you leave a tip of at least 15 percent .

  6. Choosing Hotel Locations

    For an urban experience or a central location, downtown is the hands-down pick. If you have a car or don’t mind the distance, a number of B&Bs, boutique hotels, or guesthouses border the downtown area.

  7. Hotel Gradings

    All major hotels are subject to a widely accepted star-based system that gauges the overall merits, level of service, and amenities advertised by the property. Four-star hotels are the most luxurious and expensive. If you have any doubts, simply ask the reservation agent if the hotel has a rating. However, hotels rarely mention status unless they have a high score.

  8. Making Hotel Reservations

    Seattle has become a worldwide destination for huge conventions and large tour groups, many coming from cruise ships in the summer months when the tourist industry flourishes. Make your reservations in advance to avoid finding only a limited choice on arrival.

  9. Extra Costs & Tipping

    Occasionally, travel packages at downtown hotels include overnight parking with the room, but most charge exorbitant rates for the service. You are charged for making phones calls even when dialing a toll-free number. If the room includes a stocked refrigerator, anything consumed will add to the bill. Also remember to tip the housekeeper and other service providers at the hotel.

  10. Traveling with Kids

    Many hotels don’t charge extra for kids 12 and under staying in their parents’ room. Some have the same service for children 18 and under. Others may provide roll-away beds or cribs for a price. Search the neighborhood around Seattle Center for the most family-friendly hotels or motels. Parking lots nearby are often cheaper than the hotel’s garage.

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