Photo courtesy of Keli Faw
The grand opening for Drygoods Design is September 5th.

At Large in Ballard: Being shown the door

By Peggy Sturdivant

Ballard Avenue. What can I say? Once upon a time there were bars and brothels, then artists, industry and music. Then came the period described by The New York Times as, “a magic moment of coexistence” between industrial and retail. Ah, to be back in 2007.

Welcome to 2014. The vacant lot that has been used by the Ballard Farmer’s Market on Sunday will soon be the construction site of a mixed-use three to four-story building. The Ballard Inn proposes to add a partial third floor. Ballard Avenue is going “up,” in height, and rents.

With windows that opened onto the vacant lot Drygoods Design owner Keli Faw knew that she was going to have to find a new space for her business, rather than be part of the next two years of construction. Located in a step-up space behind the Anchored Ship Coffee Bar at 5306 Ballard Avenue NW, Faw also wanted something else for her business: her own front door.

Faw has lived in Ballard for almost nine years; for the two-and-a-half years since she expanded her on-line fabric and goods business to a retail and studio location she’s lived within a mile of the shop. She has a daughter in pre-school and a son about to start Kindergarten at Loyal Heights. Now add to the stress of the first week of school a grand opening in a bigger space. Not in Ballard.

As of August 29, 2014 Drygoods Design will be the NW cornerstone of the pedestrian block at Occidental Avenue South and Main in Pioneer Square. Drygoods Design is moving from one of Seattle’s seven historic landmark districts to another one -- Pioneer Square, one of Seattle’s first commercial areas, with its own cycles of prosperity and hard times.

Ah, Ballard Avenue 2014. “Bringing Belltown to Ballard” a review said of a restaurant back in 2002. This was after Fremont’s funkiness moved west, launching the “hip” period. Meanwhile Pioneer Square’s Elliott Bay Book Company moved to Capital Hill in a wake of change for both areas. Now a return of business and vitality to Pioneer Square is the next play in the game of Seattle neighborhood shuffle.

Fabric hounds and crafts people in other states were more likely to know about the offerings of Drygoods Design than the average Ballard resident. Although they often displayed in the window of the Anchored Ship you had to follow the clues of fabric Narwhals or radishes through the small coffee shop and up the stairs to discover the fabric paradise. Displayed in the narrow hallway were products such as scarves, quilts, tops, and bags, each bearing a tag that read, “I’m a class.” A studio with sewing machines was behind the small retail space in the historic building.

The store was most likely to be noticed during the Sunday Farmer’s Market but in the last year Faw had noticed that other than Sunday, Ballard Avenue was becoming a nighttime destination rather than daytime. With a change in building ownership and the building construction imminent Faw had really hoped for another space in Ballard, one that would give her a visible storefront, with her own door. She also needed to grow, but couldn’t even find a smaller space that was affordable.

Faw followed a lead to Pioneer Square, wary of the reaction of her two permanent employees. Instead they asked, “When are we moving?” equally excited by the energy and daytime foot traffic (even before the August 26, 2014 announcement that Weyerhauser would be moving their headquarters to the next block). The new space will have 60’ of window front, a prime location, access to parking, more square footage, double high ceilings and a front door, for almost the same rent.

The move has been a veritable catapult with Drygoods Design planning to celebrate their grand opening on September 5, 2014 at 6 p.m. It will coincide with the Pioneer Square art walk, taking place on a Friday instead of First Thursday because of the Seahawks hoopla happening September 3-4 (when they will be sewing up “12th Man” patches).

Faw is thrilled with the location and space. She wants to offer lunch break lessons and additional workshops, more partnerships with businesses, such as a new one with Tolt River Wool. Plus there’s free nearby 30 minute parking until 11 a.m. so they’ll be open earlier (10 a.m.) in case customers want to take advantage of that parking window.

“This is close as I thought I’d ever get to my dream space,” Keli Faw admitted. Time to unlock the door.
Drygoods Design is located at 301 Occidental Ave. S, 98104. (206.535.6950) M-F 10-7, Sat/Sun 10:30-5:30. Grand opening on September 5, 2014 at 6 p.m.

Contact Peggy

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