One year after surviving a shooting, Le Merde owner re-opening in Ballard

If you’ve seen that pink photo of the white cat in the window at 2607 NW Market St. — next to the new Nordic Museum — that marks the spot of Le Merde, a Phinney Ridge shop that’s moving to Ballard and will re-open this weekend.

Owner Debi Boyette describes the shop as a “curated concept store” with vintage collections and works from indie designers and local artists.

“It’s pretty perfect because I live a few blocks away, so I will be closer to my friends and family,” she told My Ballard. “I’m feeling hopeful about 2018.”

That’s because 2017 was a tough year. Boyette was attending a concert at Crocodile Cafe in Belltown with her son last January when she was wounded in a drive-by shooting. Two others were shot, but fortunately her son escaped unharmed. She spent two weeks in the hospital.

“My recovery was hard,” she said. “I really couldn’t walk much, but I moved around in a wheelchair or a walker.” To complicate things further, she said she clashed with her landlords after an adjacent shop closed, leaving her bills to pay for both spaces.

“I don’t want to be fearful of getting back into life,” she told Vanguard Seattle two months after the shooting. “Life is so short, and there are so many things I want to do.”

Ballard is Boyette’s fresh start. She’s opening Le Merde this Saturday, and she’ll celebrate the grand re-opening on the 18th on Art Walk — one day before the first anniversary of the shooting.

‘Ballard Gives Black Friday’ is back

This Friday more than 20 Ballard businesses will donate a portion of the day’s proceeds to local charities.

“Ballard Gives Black Friday” began in 2013 as a way to attract more shoppers into Ballard while helping local non-profits. The charities include the Ballard Food Bank, YouthCare, Mary’s Place and the Vera Project, to name a few.

“In addition to the giving portion of the post-Thanksgiving weekend, the Ballard merchant community is promoting a message to shop local and shop small,” explains Legh Burns, co-owner of re-souL. “Seattle has a strong, independent mindset and there is no better example than the businesses of Ballard coming together to spread the message.”

There are 23 participating businesses — here’s the list along with their charities — so get out there on Friday and support both our neighborhood businesses and some of Seattle’s best charities.

Last-minute shoppers bustle through Ballard

The busiest spot in Ballard today must have been Fred Meyer.

With no parking spots throughout, cars circled endlessly. In this case, a car parked up on the curb where the parking spot was too narrow. Inside, the checkers were operating at high-speed to process the crowds.

Ballard Market was busy, as well. In Central and Old Ballard, the crowds were not nearly as crazy, but parking was still tough. It’s still too early to tell how this holiday season stacks up, but one retailer told us sales have been brisk.

We’ll post an update after the holidays.

UW top school for shoppers, thanks to Ballard

U.S. News and World Report reports that the University of Washington is one of the best colleges for shoppers, thanks in part to Ballard.

According to the news magazine, “The Pacific Northwest may be an afterthought for shopping, but the University of Washington proves to be an underrated haven for retail. Students can make the short trek to Ballard, a historic tree-lined district in northwest Seattle that offers up dozens of locally owned shops ranging from clothes to jewelry.” (Thanks Linda for the tip!)

Taking the pulse of holiday shopping in Ballard

Walking around downtown Ballard on Friday afternoon, holiday shoppers seemed few and far between. Perhaps that’s because the final shopping crunch had yet to come. Or perhaps it had something to do with the time of day. In any case, considering the economy, a number of shops in Ballard are satisfied with how sales are going. Some, such as Blackbird, even say they’re doing well.

“We’re getting a lot more foot traffic than last year,” said Nicole Miller, owner of Blackbird, Inc., adding that, “online sales are growing tremendously.”

That’s great news for the company, which runs Blackbird, Blackbird Candy Shoppe, and The Field House. Since they sell seasonal clothing, among other products, they depend on the holiday shopping season to sell their fall merchandise. (In related news, Blackbird’s women’s store, Birgitta, closed this past weekend. In a press release, Blackbird reported that almost a year after opening Birgitta they, “realized that the other Blackbird businesses were more successful and took far less effort.”)

A few blocks east, on Market Street, the Ballard Sip & Ship also reports improvements. The Ballard/Greenwood Sip & Ships—which offer an assortment of paper goods and gift items along with shipping services—had been in the red for 15 months, and just came out of it last month, said co-owner Diana Naramore.

Ballard Mail & Dispatch, otherwise known as the Sip & Ship, is the one place you’ll find Ballard gear, said co-owner Diana Naramore.

The snowstorm that blew into the region just before Christmas last year made it difficult for many people to get around, and forced some to stay close to home. With fewer shoppers getting into their cars, businesses experienced a couple scenarios: fewer customers in some cases, and more customers visiting stores within walking distance in others.

(A reminder of what downtown Ballard looked like a year ago.)

For La Tienda, the snowstorm was “disastrous,” said co-owner Monique Tran. “Sales were down around 40% for five days which are usually five of the busiest days of the year.”

This year’s holiday sales at La Tienda are about the same as last year, said Tran, who encourages shoppers to buy their presents in Ballard. She believes that the business district contributes to Ballard’s character, and that it’s something that needs to be preserved.

“The Ballard business district is a large and varied collection of high quality independent businesses,” she said. “Many of these businesses are struggling to survive. If too many go under the critical mass that makes Ballard special may disappear never to return.”

The Field House and the other Blackbird, Inc., stores (Blackbird and Blackbird Candy Shoppe) offer everything from Stanley thermoses and flasks to chocolate hedgehogs, and much more. Clothing brands include Comme des Garcons, Helmut Lang, RRL, and Blackbird Vintage.

Ballard is full of shops offering everything from high-end clothing to affordable fashion accessories, kitchen gadgets to cookie-making supplies. One can find rare records, fine French teas, and much more.

“Seriously, Ballard has so much to offer,” said Diane Macrae, owner of Venue Ballard. “We have a fireplace store, for crying out loud.”

At Macrae’s store, shoppers will find one-of-a-kind items—jewelry, trinkets, paintings and more—made by local artists. A number of artists have studios in the store, and shopping at Venue allows customers to support multiple local businesses within one place, Macrae said.

If shoppers can’t find what they are looking for, the staff often refers them to another store in the area that will, Macrae said. She’s proud of what Ballard offers, and wants to help shoppers find the perfect gift, service she said they won’t get at the mall. “It’s all about giving the customer what they want.”

Sarah Furstenberg, owner of the children’s store Clover on Ballard Avenue, has a similar dedication to customer service.

“I love to help people find stuff if they’re stumped on what to buy kids,” she said. “I have two kids and they’ve played with everything in the store.”

Shoppers hoping to find last-minute presents and stocking stuffers have until Christmas Eve to find the perfect gift for their friends and loved ones. Many stores are open into the late afternoon, and some say they’ll stay open as long as they have a customer in the store. (Disclosure: Sip & Ship is a sponsor of MyBallard.)

D.D.S. is a freelance writer for She has years of journalism under her belt producing/writing for television and writing for print. She and her husband live in the neighborhood.

Holiday weekends are full of bazaars and sales

Besides hitting the traditional Ballard brick and mortar stores for your holiday shopping, there are several events which will (hopefully) take some of the stress out of the holiday hustle and bustle.

  • Christmas Bazaar & Silent Auction on Friday and Saturday December 4th and 5th, 10am-5pm both days. All proceeds from this event will benefit two organizations that are digging fresh water wells in underprivileged countries in Africa. The Christmas Bazaar and Silent Auction, as well as a Quilt Raffle will be held at Ballard Church located at 1460 NW 73rd. Bazaar items will include many handmade crafts and specialties, jewelry, home-baked goods, candles and more. Auction items include household furnishings, collections and theatre tickets and more. Admission is free. Donations to Ballard Food Bank are being accepted.
  • This weekend, December 5th & 6th, Eat Chocolates, Anne au Soleil (French imports) & Paisley Imports are joining forces for a Holiday Sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 621 & 645 NW 45th St. The shopping event will feature “Unique gifts from India & France plus gourmet chocolates and other chocolatey refreshments. You will find many one-of-a-kind items from jewelry, home decor to fabrics, handbags & skin care products. There is truly something for every budget,” Anne Mills says.
  • Soulumination, a Ballard non-profit foundation, will be holding its 4th Annual Holiday Artists’ Sale on December 5th and 6th. 22 artists and craftpersons will be selling their work, with 25% of their sales go to support the work of Soulumination, which celebrates the lives of children and parents facing life-threatening conditions by providing their families a professional photographic legacy at no cost. The studio is located at 5201 11th Ave. NW. Sale hours are Saturday, Dec. 5 from 10 – 7 and Sunday, Dec. 6 from 12-5.
  • Although it’s not Ballard, it’s pretty close. The PNA Winter Festival and Crafts Fair is this weekend, December 5th & 6th at 6532 Phinney Ave. N. The fair runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Adults are $4, PNA members $2. The fair features a diverse array of crafts from 115 artists, hundreds of musicians and dancers on two stages, a quilt raffle, a bake sale, and yummy foods. Childcare will be available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2-5 p.m. both days. Montessori Garden staff members will babysit children ages 3-10 in the Brick Building. Cost is $10 per hour per child. You can leave your child for up to one hour, and it’s first-come, first-served.
  • Ballard’s Building C Studios are holding their 4th Annual Holiday Show & Sale next Saturday, December 12th from noon – 9 PM. More than 20 professional artists will open their working studios to the public, with festive holiday goodies and a jazz duo in the evening. Much of the artwork will be for sale at reduced prices, with many small pieces perfect for holiday gift-giving. Families are welcome. This special holiday event is in conjunction with the Ballard Art Walk, but will be held during the afternoon in addition to the usual 6-9 PM Art Walk. The jazz duo, playing from 6 PM to closing, is “Jazz in the Corner”, comprised of Todd Benefield and Todd Lien. Building C is located on the second floor of 4818 14th Ave. NW, near the corner of 14th NW & NW Leary.
  • There are also many events around Ballard this weekend, so stay tuned for the weekend events calendar which we’ll publish on Friday. If you know of other holiday shopping events in Ballard, please emails us:

    Get ready for ‘Holidays in Ballard’

    While many people are still trying to put together their Halloween costumes, the In Ballard Merchants Association is already gearing up for the holidays. After a summer-long “Tuesdays in Ballard” blitz, the group is planning a “Holidays in Ballard” campaign to run from November 16th to January 4th. There is a kick-off meeting planned for this Tuesday October 6th.

    “We will discuss our plans for the upcoming season,” says Laura Buzard of Laura Bee Designs and secretary of the association. “So far these include festive decorations, a PR and ad campaign, and exciting holiday-related events to make Ballard the go-to shopping district this winter.” The meeting will be held at the Ballard Community Center at 7 p.m.

    Snow gives boost to some Ballard businesses

    Ballard merchants teamed up for a “Shop Local/Think Local” campaign, and we here at My Ballard launched a “Buy in Ballard” campaign…

    But for some Ballard businesses over the last few days, perhaps the best “buy local” campaign of all was the work of Mother Nature. Despite the snow, most shops were able to open with skeleton staffs. As snow days turned into a snow week, they tell us that many Ballard residents decided to skip the mall and head to central Ballard to finish up their holiday shopping.

    “Neighbors are skiing in, sledding in and bringing their dogs, it’s so fun!” one Collective employee tells us. Across the street at Duque salon+spa+boutique, business is also up. Giovanna, the owner, tells us that the Ballard community has always been a great supporter of her business. While people come in from out of state for salon services, “our meat and potatoes is the community.” But not everyone is seeing the uptick in business. Horseshoe, the newest boutique on Ballard Ave., tells us they’re seeing just average days, not the holiday boost they were hoping for. But there’s still time: you have today and tomorrow to finish up your last-minute shopping, and please, buy in Ballard.

    Farmers Market, many Ballard stores open

    Believe it or not, the Ballard Farmers Market is open for business.

    About one third of the vendors were able to make it to Old Ballard.

    And most businesses are open, too. Not as many shoppers as usual, but a good turnout considering the magnitude of last night’s snowfall.

    Crown Hill resident Claude said he skied down to the market from 75th St.

    A snowman adds a little holiday spirit to the Olsen Farms booth. Unlike the Ballard Farmers Market, the Fremont Market is closed today.

    Bundled-up shoppers carefully cross Market St. Many stores are open here, too, on the last weekend shopping day before Christmas.

    Shopping craziness as storm approaches

    4 p.m. update: As a big storm approaches, people are flooding stores in a last-minute attempt to stock up on supplies and buy holiday gifts. This was the scene at Fred Meyer today, courtesy of My Ballard reader Mitchncraig:

    At Ballard Market, the scene was just as crazy. The line wrapped all the way down the front and wrapped back around the deli counter.

    “I waited in line for 50 minutes for 13 items,” said Dylin in comments.

    Outside, cars were parked all over the place, up and down surrounding streets. Have a shopping experience to share?