If you've been following along with 50SoS's "My America" series, chances are, you're noticing a trend: Many of the locals I'm interviewing are shopkeepers. No coincidence there. They're passionate about what they do, enthusiastic about where they live, and they always seem to perk up when they find out it's your first time visiting: "Oh!" they exclaim, "you must go next door and try so-and-so's salted caramel milkshake," or, "You have to head down the street to check out this brand new gallery." Shopkeepers or in this case, a shopgirl, are always in-the-know and generally love to play tour guide when they find out you're new to their city. The next time you're unsure about your itinerary, make it a point to head straight over to an established store in town to pick their brain, and as an added bonus, you'll probably come away with a souvenir (or four).
I recently asked Allyce Andrew, shop girl extraordinaire and resident photographer of Seattle's NuBe Green to share all her spots with us, which she generously did, along with beautiful photography. A huge thanks to Allyce and also to Ruth True, NuBe's founder, for curating such a lovely marketplace for American creators to thrive. Every item she stocks in her store and online—from homewares and furniture, to clothing and accessories—is made from sustainable materials, sourced and crafted in the United States.
What brought you to Seattle?
I moved here a year ago after I graduated from college in South Louisiana. I visited the Pacific NW for the first time in 2011 for Sasquatch Music Fest and missed it so much that I cried as soon as I got home.
I know this is probably a tough question, but what's your favorite store other than your own?
Glasswing (1525 Melrose Ave.) in Melrose Market is absolutely stunning. I always send curious Seattle shoppers their way. The store is so open and looks a bit like a greenhouse with all of the sweet, futuristic planters they have for sale. They also host rad events like “Rappers with Cameras.”
What's the last thing you bought in Seattle?
“The Waves” by Virginia Woolf from Elliot Bay Bookstore (our 10th & Pine next-door neighbor at 1521 10th Ave.)
What's your favorite outdoor market?
Pike Place Market. It’s the oldest continuously operated farmers’ market in the U.S. Also, Rachel’s Ginger Beer has a store there, which makes it wonderful in my book.
Moving on to food! What's the best thing you've ever eaten in Seattle?
I love the Texas Tease from Honey Hole on Cap Hill (703 E. Pike St.). It's a beautiful BBQ sandwich filled with pulled smoked chicken and cheese. I send people there all of the time. I’ll also argue that they have the best fries in Seattle.
Where do you grab a drink before dinner?
Sun Liquor (607 Summit Ave. E.) for their "Jasmine" (gin, cointreau, Campari, lemon juice). Sun Liquor’s vibe itself is hard to describe. They make their gin, rum and vodka in-house, so you can see the giant vats behind the bar which gives the place an open and vibrant feeling.
Best coffee shop?
Milstead & Co. in Fremont (770 N. 34th St.). It’s also a wide-open space that’s inviting and productive. Lately, I’ve been ordering iced lattes and Americanos! Anything espresso-based.
What's your favorite live music venue and what was the last show you saw there?
I love The Black Lodge. It’s a seedy, secret, DIY venue. I’ve photographed a local, experimental noise festival for Debacle Records there and a metal band from Baton Rouge called Thou.
Favorite art gallery?
I fell in love with the Henry (University of Washington, 15th Ave. NE & 41st St.) after they started the Summer Field Studies program. I loved that the gallery gathered different artists to curate outdoor activities that were geared to help Seattleites take advantage of the rare access to nature that we have in the city. The only event that I was able to attend was “Speck on Speck on Speck,” where we stargazed at Gas Works Park with local artist Allyce Wood.
If I had just two hours to spend in your town with a friend, what would you recommend we do?
That’s so hard to answer! I’m a huge chocolate fan, so taking the Theo Chocolate tour (3400 Phinney Ave. N.), grabbing lunch from Uneeda Burger (4302 Fremont Ave. N.) and eating it at Gas Works Park (2101 N. Northlake Way) is a solid way to spend a few hours.
What's the most impressive thing about where you live?
The Arboretum ( 2300 Arboretum Drive E.). There are tons of impressive things to list about Seattle, but I love that whenever I’m there I feel like I’m completely surrounded by nature and outside of the city.
I’m from the South, so I find a lot of things about Seattle to be absolutely strange. The sociopolitical climate is fascinating to me, but the fact that there’s an old Seattle underground city in Pioneer Square is eerie. Seattle wasn’t always about the Space Needle, Pike Place Market and grunge music. It was a rowdy port town for a long time and the underground is a reminder of Seattle’s true roots.
The most surprising?
People in Seattle are so genuinely nice. I heard a lot about the Seattle freeze when I moved here, but people smile at you on the street and I’ve left work many times in a much better mood than when I got here after chatting with all of our amazing Cap Hill customers.
Where do you recommend visitors stay?
My first Seattle experience was at the Green Tortoise Hostel in Pike Place Market (105 Pike St.). I’ve photographed weddings in hotels all over Seattle, but this will always be my favorite. The market closes early, but it’s a great hub for catching a bus to Capitol Hill, Ballard or the U District if you want to experience some nightlife.
What's the most touristy but "worth it" thing to do?
The Experience Music Project (325 Fifth Ave. N.) is a huge tourist attraction, but worth the money. I’ve seen some of Jimmy Hendrix’s fabulous, psychedelic shirts that would make the Cap Hill boys drool, plus Link breakdancing at a fantasy event I photographed. It’s a good time.
Touristy but overrated?
The ducks! And I have to say, the Space Needle is a little too expensive for me.
A “Ride the Ducks” whistle. I know you’ll do it anyway.
Turn on the radio. What station is playing?
KEXP forever and always. If it’s on the weekend, probably reggae. Otherwise, you’ll hear a rare in-studio session of Spoon playing a bunch of new songs from “They Want my Soul” or Macklemore performing with a local artist.
Can you share one spot that you're often surprised more locals don't know about?
I'm sad to say that my favorite Seattle restaurant, Catfish Corner, which flew totally under-the-radar, closed last week after nearly three decades in business. It reminded me a lot of home. So many restaurants in Seattle are fancy and overpriced, but they didn't try to be anything but what they were. You ordered at the counter and then you were pretty much left on your own. Also, they had hushpuppies.
It's Sunday, 3pm, and beautiful outside. This is where you want to be:
Paddle boarding on Lake Union with my coworker Alexandria.
If you had to leave tomorrow, what would you miss the most?
Our beautiful evergreen winters.