RR Anderson, DIY Cultural Arts Specialist

Dec. 20, 2009 at 6:22pm

Last Minute Xmas Shopping Jihad and Downtown Retail: From Antique Row to Frieghthouse Square

to boldly shop where angles fear to tread

They say downtown has an image problem. That all we need is some intense propaganda to get downtown Tacoma up and kicking to pre-1900 era levels... my friends, we've got a long and lonesome road to travel. 

first stop...


The Learning Sprout

http://www.learningsprout.com/

The Learning Sprout

[PHOTO: THE LEARNING SPROUT - IMPROVISED EDUCATIONAL DEVICE (I.E.D.) December 2009 ]

Looking for that special something that says 'daddy loves you' for your little one? Try this replica exploding grenade! Surprise your mom/dad just-back-from-Iraq in the shower for some holiday fun. Educational toy maybe? Learn about PTSD side effects?  Not such a bad toy since the invention of the nightmare pill; however, the bulk of our purchases were Plan Toy's farm animals. Magnificent product markup helps feed families, jobs. You can buy these products cheaper online if you want to be an asshole. 


second stop...


Ye Olde What Shoppe?

http://whatshoppe.com/

What Shoppe?

[PHOTO: YE OLDE WHAT SHOPPE? - THE LITTLE PEOPLE, FROZEN IN TIME]
Between the Learning Sprout and Ye Olde What Shoppe? we were able to satisfy the bulk of our xmas shopping. What Shoppe stocks a magnificent supply of HO scale train set figures sets.  I was unable to locate the Hostage Situation figure (which is the must-have train set figure of 2009) but most of the 2008 figure lines were available here. 
My second must-have item was also available Theodore Roosevelt and His Family Paper Dolls in Full Color... I would greatly recommend over Women Aviators Coloring Book--which despite the attractive title contained nothing but ultra-substandard illustrations. 
Also nice place to look for those erotic anime girl desk statuary.  HIGHLY RECOMMEND A++++!! 





Last stop and one big fucking waste of time unless your are one sadistic maniac...

FREIGHT HOUSE SQUARE 

http://www.freighthousesquare.com/

Freight House Square

[PHOTO: FREIGHT HOUSE SQUARE - ONE OF MANY EMPTY STORES]
If I were to venture a guess I'd say half the vendors have abandoned this place for greener pastures.. or at the very least, pastures that don't smell like a mens I-5 rest stop.  Seriously, when was the last time they changed the urinal cakes in this place?  Maybe open some windows... cuz dang.  Smells like ass in here! Add in the zigg-zaggy walls and creepy low cut stall windows and you could re-market the whole thing as a vertigo inducing fun-house.
Freight House Square

[PHOTO: FREIGHT HOUSE SQUARE: CASH TODAY! CASH 4 GOLD]
I always have a desire to check out this collectible coin hobby shop... but the place is never ever open. 
Freight House Square
[PHOTO: FREIGHT HOUSE SQUARE: INTENSELY BORING RETAIL]
With all the amazing retail offerings it is hard to imagine the Freight House Square (FHS) going down in financial flames. Maybe FHS is a fun place to eat, but my idea of fun place to eat is not a mens rest room. I dunno i'm no expert.  I have Infinite Soups... so we're good in the food department over in the Theater District. no real reason for me to go back here EVER. 
In closing FHS: Brick City
We made a special trip downstairs @ FHS to see the lego place. It was exciting until we were asked to leave by the dude building a little lego house. It appears you're only allowed to peek in through the arch and not actually welcome inside the space.  This experience became quite astonishing when in the same breath asking us to leave, it is said, the Brick City studio space is unique because of its 'open door' policy and how other lesser lego-building artisans would never even be seen by the public.  Yeah, well that dude can go sit on a green lego cucumber. 

FINAL THOUGHTS...

Seems like the pantages was pretty active with a matinee showing of The Nut Cracker... there were actually people dressed up in fine clothes walking on the sidewalk on a drizzly Sunday morning... and HALF the store fronts downtown were closed.   Maybe you'd have more luck doing your last minute x-day shopping over in PROCTOR.  
AND HOLY HANNAH, I think we as Tacomans take for granted the miracle that is THE LEARNING SPROUT... a business doing BRISK sales on a SUNDAY in DOWN(ghost)TOWN TACOMA!!!??  We should put those folks in charge of saving us all. 

comments [9]  |  posted under marketing, merchants group, retail, tacoma

Comments

by Dave_L on 12/20/2009 @ 8:08pm
You peeked at my shopping map. Learning Sprout and staff are tops. I hope you caught the spinner full of gag items by the register. Free play-day upstairs at least one Saturday a month - sign up on their email list. Phillip & Charlotte at What? are many incredible artists, experts in film and classic horror, and their shop has made it though thin and thin (and LID). I want Santa to bring me the book they have on vintage Revell models and box art. As a representative of CLAW, I hope you caught the slick issues of Illustration Magazine on the rack behind the register. Also downtown for longer than I can remember (that used to mean more than it does now) above-ground, then underground, then above-ground, is Watermark Gifts, on A-Street between 11th and 13th. Among the very nice variety and quality of conventional items Karen has are some unconventional items, particularly those from Accouterments (aka Archie McPhee) and great cards. And a cool guard-dog.

by NineInchNachos on 12/20/2009 @ 8:15pm
Archie McPhee! Will have to check out the Watermark Gifts, Thanks again Dave L

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 12/20/2009 @ 8:42pm
I suspect the only retailers mentioned above that will still be in business 365 days from today will be the What Shoppe? I know that retail isn't everything as far as a downtown goes, but it is something and that something is rapidly going away. Can this be any sadder?

by Courtney on 12/20/2009 @ 9:12pm
Thank you for sussing out the where to's of downtown holiday shopping. I like Learning Sprout too and have drooled over the Plan Toy stuff but they are little expensive. Poor Freighthouse Square. The little shopping center that couldn't. Weird about the Lego place...I've taken our kids twice and they've never been anything but nice. Maybe he heard someone use the word Holiday instead of Christmas one too many times.

by ixia on 12/20/2009 @ 9:19pm
Pretty soon you will be able to buy toy hand-cuffs (pink and blue) from the AG storefront and bail bond at Pacific Plaza

by Mofo from the Hood on 12/20/2009 @ 11:02pm
Setting up a Lionel train set on the living room floor as a kid is one of my favorite memories. I was lucky because I was the benefactor of two sets---two older brothers = two older train sets. The newer set had a boxcar with an opening roof that revealed missiles. In the overall scheme, if I wanted to pose any people or animals, I had to improvise with non-train set inventory.

However, that 1950's missle-carrying boxcar is hardly controversial compared to today's available standing figures that represent a hostage situation---that's downright disturbing. I could go for a figure of Wolfman or Creature from the Black Lagoon, but no way would I place in a kid's play space a figure of guy holding a gun to woman's head (assuming the figure is woman and not a transvestite.)

by Mofo from the Hood on 12/20/2009 @ 11:02pm
Setting up a Lionel train set on the living room floor as a kid is one of my favorite memories. I was lucky because I was the benefactor of two sets---two older brothers = two older train sets. The newer set had a boxcar with an opening roof that revealed missiles. In the overall scheme, if I wanted to pose any people or animals, I had to improvise with non-train set inventory.

However, that 1950's missle-carrying boxcar is hardly controversial compared to today's available standing figures that represent a hostage situation---that's downright disturbing. I could go for a figure of Wolfman or Creature from the Black Lagoon, but no way would I place in a kid's play space a figure of guy holding a gun to woman's head (assuming the figure is a woman and not a transvestite.)

by AngelaJossy on 12/20/2009 @ 11:44pm
Did you check out the Ever After shop near Learning Sprout? Maybe its a little too girly for you but I think that place is adorable. They have really cool purses, jewelry, candles and other great gifts.

by fredo on 12/21/2009 @ 10:52am
RE: the glacial pace of Tacoma's retail redevelopment.

Let's not enact laws and regulations which inhibit the use of capital for retail redevelopment and then complain about the lack of retailers. Citizens who vote for increases in sales taxes, property taxes, minimum wage rates, and who elect representatives who favor increases in pay and benefits for public employees, and the establishment of business and occupation taxes should not complain when the commercial landscape is mostly just "for lease" signs. For those who want to blame George W. Bush for our problems I would note that Tacoma's downward retailing spiral started long before he took office.

For those who like Tacoma's anti-business structure and who enjoy confining their downtown shopping trips to card shops, jewelers, baby shops and bail bondsmen you've got your dream environment. Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas.

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RR Anderson is one of the most curious characters in the UFO lore and the history of underground cartooning. He fought bizarre underground beings in the caves of Alaska, was wounded by a laser before it was invented, and had a background with the clandestine branch of the Tacoma Cartoonists Society.


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