Tag Archives: downtown

Shop Local Mercer Island

Hope you just enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving at home and not out shopping!. It was bad enough when Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend became about shopping, but staffing shifts on Thanksgiving is pretty low.

End of rant. If you are planning to shop sometime this weekend, think about Mercer Island stores. But I’d encourage you to skip Friday and shop local on Saturday.

Island Books

This is by far the best shopping on Mercer Island, Aside from books, games and kid toys, there are also some jewelry and other craft items. I usually do a bunch of my holiday shopping here.



Terra Bella

Terra Bella has a bunch of candles and home items,

and they just opened a holiday shop next door:


Stopsky’s has a bunch of tasty food items for the foodie in your life.

As well as pastries:

And if you do go off-Island, consider where with this handy post on shopping neighborhoods near the MI.

Did I miss any? Add your favorite MI shop in the comments.

Mercer Island Downtown

Seems that one of the new retail spots in the new building by Tully’s is going to be a pediatric dentistry. I like kids, and I like teeth, but this is one more shop in downtown that doesn’t lend itself to a fun, walking retail core. “While it’s a boost to the Town Center any time a vacant space is occupied, we don’t really need more doctors, dentists and real estate brokers occupying what should be prime spots for some creative retail stores,” says resident Bill Kratz.

Mercer Island’s downtown keeps getting close to greatness. On the plus side, Freshy’s has a fish & chip window and nightly dinners. Moe’s pizza is new. The food trucks are coming.

But on the down side, developers keep favoring staid old business that bring good rent. The real problem here isn’t dentists– it’s banks and real estate offices. But when’s the last time you took a stroll downtown to window shop at HSBC?
banks-225-2 real-estate-offices-225
Map on left is banks. Map on right is real estate offices. Lots of both!

What if we could link together the little spots of wonderful– Bennett’s, Island Books & Stopsky’s, Terra Bella, Freshy’s. Instead they are each islands surrounded by boring but reliable banks and offices.
Sigh. Another bank. Anyone want to apply for a loan? It’s a fun night out!

Zaw Pizza Coming to Tabit Square

Zaw Pizza, the fancy take-and-bake pizza chain, is coming to Mercer Island. Have never tried it myself, though I’ve heard it’s good– and Sahara Pizza could use some competition.

Here’s their planned location at Tabit Square:

Thanks to hot tipper Bill, who always has the scoop on downtown.

We Could Learn a Lot from Crossroads: MICC Lunch Thursday

Never thought I would say this about a mall, but we could learn a lot from Crossroads. It’s not really a mall: it’s an event space, a library, a grocery store, a community place, a food court (ok, maybe it is really a mall.)

This Thursday at the MI Chamber of Commerce membership lunch the developer of Crossroads, Ron Sher, will be the guest. The MICC says: “He is a different kind of developer – a number cruncher who loves books and believes in community which he incorporates in all his projects.”

Here are some of the cool things Crossroads does:

  • Host community celebrations, like India Days which draws from and celebrates the nearby Indian community
  • Have retail that engages people in activities beyond shopping, and brings them back regularly. There are a couple of craft shops for kids, and a Michaels and JoAnn Fabrics that bring out the crafters.
  • Have only local food in the food court, no chains.

There’s a lot more, like putting a supermarket right in the middle of everything and having tons of kids and music events. Downtown Mercer Island could be that good, and even better, our common space is outside not inside a mall. We just have to connect up a few good walking strips and get rid of some of the massive parking lots that break up the vibe of a downtown walking area.

If you’ve got time, join for the Thursday lunch.
Cost: $15 for members, $18 for non members
RSVP: info@mercerislandchamberofcommerce.org

Stopsky’s Goes All the Way

… to dinner. That’s right, the new deli on the Island is now open for dinner and has been for about a week. They announced this a few weeks back:

I stopped in (not at dinnertime) to see how it was going. The hostess said they’ve had pretty good traffic, and they also have their liquor license now so they have a wine list. The dinner menu looks good, if fully priced:

Stopsky’s also joins Bennett’s, Cellar 46, and the Roanoke as a good place to be found between 4 and 6 pm. At Stopsky’s, that Nosh Hour:

If you’ve been by for dinner, leave a comment and let us know how it is. I’m sure we’ll make it there sooner or later.

What’s Going Up at the Old Safeway?

The old Safeway site near Aljoya and Freshy’s is finally seeing activity. After a few years of sad destitution, including acting as a temporary parking lot for the Park & Ride while it was under construction, it’s under development:

Destruction of the Safeway seems complete, now to build something in its place.

The MI Reporter reports that BRE Properties is the developer. Plans are:
A six-level mixed use building with one floor of below-grade parking, a ground level accommodating different commercial uses and four floors of apartments.

The new building will have an estimated 166 residential units, and 312 parking spaces with 85 set aside for business customers. A total of 12,000 square feet will be for retail spaces, a restaurant or professional offices.

In keeping with the modern tradition of pretentious and meaningless condo names, the project will be called “Aviara.” Sounds like a step forward for that area of downtown, though, and I hope they get some great retail in there. BRE is based in San Francisco and has built developments from San Diego on up, including several in the Seattle area. Here’s a list.

Mercer Island’s Coffee Shack Closes

You know that little coffee hut in the lot just north of Mercerdale Park? The only non-corporate coffee house on the Island? (The others are 3 Starbucks and a Tully’s, for the record.)

Well, it closed. At first I thought the owner was just taking a summer hiatus. Believe me, I can understand that. But the place is for rent:

Yup, that looks pretty closed.

There have been a number of retail changes in downtown coming out of the downturn, most for the better. This one is a loss, though. Thanks for all the coffee and best wishes!

Downtown Updates: Art, Condos, Etc.

It was 3rd Thursday downtown again tonight. The last tow for the summer are coming up on July 21st and August 18 in different regions of downtown (did you know MI had a downtown big enough to have regions? It does, apparently!)

Next, a tip from Bill: “A computer repair shop will open in the old MI Printing location across from the Starbucks drive-through. It’s the building in the little triangular plot, and it also houses a nail salon.”

Interesting ad on Craigslist showing that The Mercer has only one 1-bedroom left, or they’re artificially creating scarcity.

And Island Books is on a summer story time schedule: Thursdays weekly at 6:30 p.m. We were a little late tonight; will try to have photos next week.

Stopsky’s Closed til Friday

UPDATE: According to their Facebook page, Stopsky’s is now closed until Monday.

Stopsky’s opening has been quite an event. The new deli ran out of food on its opening weekend, then recovered only to face an electrical fire last weekend which has it closed until Friday at 7 am.

Stopsky’s: Now open for business, but not always accepting customers.

The reviews on Yelp suggest some opening glitches like slow food and shortages of rye bread… I suspect the pro crew at Stopsky’s will get these worked out. The couple of Yelpers who focused on the food had great things to say.

They’ve also gotten some good reviews. We’ve been in for bagels so far, which were excellent but also delivered a more slowly than we would have expected. But hey, Noah’s has been in business for years and they’re even slower. Stopsky’s at least has a shot at a decent learning curve.

Vacancies at 27th st

Hot tipper Bill:

The Great Clips haircutting shop is moving from its current location next to Roberto’s to the space next to Noah’s (the former ice cream parlor). That leaves the building of its current location on 27th with three vacancies (Great Clips, Finders and Continental Travel). That’s too bad, because the building also houses one of the Island’s only stylish retail establishments in Tatters (but that’s another subject!).

The location, from Google maps:

Lots of movement in downtown these days. I expect the downturn will end up transforming downtown.