The Bravern opens this weekend in Bellevue (no, I haven’t been). I’m not a big shopper, but living in the middle of the lake as we all do, there’s a diversity of styles available. So here it is: the family of nearby commercial centers.
The Bravern: Your Rich 2nd Cousin
Let’s start with this weekend’s debutante, the Bravern. This shopping area is like your rich 2nd cousin– the one you only see a couple times a year, but you hear stories of. This cousin bought a Porsche and wrecked it when she was 17, then bought a BMW coupe to replace it. She’s always dressed fabulously and talks about the type of parties you barely knew existed outside the New York Times Style pages. The Bravern’s shops.
Bellevue Square: Your Well-To-Do 1st Cousin
With nicer sofas for shoppers than many people have in their houses, Bell Square isn’t as rich as your 2nd cousin the Bravern, but the two of them can hang in a conversation on the specifics of $2,500 purses when you feel outclassed. Bell Square’s the main local teenage hangout, family browse area and place to go for shops like Crate & Barrel and Macy’s. It is, to say the least, a very nice mall, and if it weren’t a few blocks from the Bravern it would be considered a pretty luxurious outlet. The Bellevue Collection site
Factoria: Your Practical, Dowdy Aunt
South of the rarified air of Bellevue is Factoria, where you can get anything you need except aesthetics. The main drag in Factoria has a Target, frame shops, a cheap movie theater, and a mall full of useful stores, all lined up in a slightly depressing strip mall towered over by T-Mobile’s very corporate headquarters. It’s all useful, it’s just not that… hip. Like the aunt who used to give you socks for Christmas as a kid, and when you had a baby gave you baby wipes and diapers. Factoria Mall on Yelp.
Capitol Hill: Your Delinquent Older Brother
Capitol Hill, land of naughty boutiques, trendy hangouts and strong coffee, is like the older brother who taught you how to cut class. There may be some illegal stuff going on around the fringes, and you may not really need anything that you buy, but shopping in Capitol Hill is a bit edgier than shopping on the East Side. And you’re much more likely to quit shopping altogether and sit down for a few drinks in a bar instead. Capitol Hill shopping guide on Jargol
Downtown Seattle: Your Proper Aunt
Downtown Seattle’s got the finest that Old Seattle has to offer. You can get the right gown or suit, go to the right shows, and eat at an excellent restaurant. There’s plenty that’s practical, like a cook’s store and a bunch of clothing stores, but around everything you get the feel of being in a bit of history. It’s most like your proper aunt– well-dressed, not risky, but relaxed enough to kick back and have some eggnog at Christmastime. Downtown Seattle shopping
Mercer Island: Your Mom
Grocery stores, banks, doctors, eyeglasses, vets, salons. Mercer Island is all about the bare necessities. You can get enough at the hardware store to fix a door or rake your lawn, but not enough to build a flowerbox. Mercer Island shopping is like an extension of your own home. Or like someone else’s, if you visit the frequent garage sales.
So there you have it: the closest shopping areas, characterized. Depending on your need or your mood, there’s someplace for you 15 minutes away from the Island.