2428 NW Market Street
Seattle, WA 98107
Archie McPhee calls themselves the “outfitters of Popular Culture.” This description pretty much encapsulates what a visit to the store feels like: if you are looking for something out of the norm for a gift, this is the place you will find it. (If you want something eccentric and they don’t have it here, it likely doesn’t exist.) While some people may be familiar with Archie McPhee through online ordering, you really need to experience the store itself. The Ballard shop is a little bit nuts, but is the perfect place to get that meaningful trinket that you can give to someone as an inside joke. If you have kids, take them along. This may be the one place that they will actually enjoy shopping at, because there is just so much to look at: the row of heads, a life size skeleton, tons of unique toys and candy, and general mayhem. As well as a staff that seems to be hired based on their enthusiasm, and for added flair to a store that seems to have quite enough flair as it is. But surprisingly, it is a good thing: for some reason, Archie McPhee is still fun, and not obnoxious. They really do an excellent job with the whole hokey decorating theme at Christmastime. You can buy some great traditional ornaments for a couple of bucks, and you don’t have to feel lame, because Christmas is all about the tinsel and the plastic.
I have gone here several times to buy cheap Christmas gifts for the numerous people in my life that I feel that I should get something for to show that I care – but I don’t want to buy anything huge or too expensive for. If you know people that you want to get something for but you don’t want them to feel like the have to get you anything in return (and you don’t have the cash to buy anything too big for them) then this is your place. This is a good place in Seattle for gifts that are really more like gestures- or for stocking stuffers. They really love the holidays at the store (tip- this is a great place for costume accessories at Halloween.) You can get some really funky ornaments at a great price. They have an under $20 section, an under $10 section, and the 5 cent bin (how many places have that anymore?) And their post Christmas sales are basically like a big freebie fest.
I have a friend that is a teacher who goes to Archie McPhee to get all of her students a little fun gift for the holiday. I also know a mother that was trying to make light of her son’s recent trip to Mexico, where he landed himself in a Mexican jail for a week, and almost didn’t make it home for Christmas. After scouring local stores in Ballard for a pair of phony handcuffs she could put in his stocking, I suggested she try Archie McPhee’s. She was delighted to find over ten different kinds to choose from here. No matter how strange you think your request is, don’t worry about putting it on the table here: as soon as you see the talking Tiki head, you’ll know that nothing you could ask for would get an eyebrow raise. They love the bizarre here.
You can also get a great selection of gift wrapping paper and cards for much cheaper than usual. This is basically just a place to find small token gifts for friends and family, and if you are a student on a budget, it will be your best friend.