Where to Shop Along West Seattle’s California Ave

Cruising down California 🏎️

A row of clothes at Dolls Parts collective

📸: Doll Parts Collective

I’ve always said that young people who live in West Seattle are a different breed from their peers in the rest of the city. My theory was once proven by a young couple I met at a party who enthusiastically told me they like to pretend West Seattle is to Seattle as New Jersey is to New York City. And, like crossing the Hudson from New York to New Jersey, there’s certainly a culture shift when you cross the West Seattle bridge. (I suppose the Duwamish is the Hudson in this metaphor.) 

An enclave of Puget Sound views, beachy vibes, and local shopping, West Seattle does stand out from the rest of Seattle. One of its most-standout streets is California Avenue, where there are plenty of shops for you to duck into on a rainy spring day and outdoor seating for sunny ones. With hip clothing stores, kids stuff, art supplies, a staple record store, and edible treats, you can seriously drop some dough at local businesses in West Seattle.

Crossing the Duwamish 🌉

We have a few great options until we receive our long-promised light rail to West Seattle. 1: Hog some carbon and drive over on the reopened West Seattle Bridge. 2: Hop on the Rapid Ride C line, which drops you right in the heart of California Ave. 3: Go the adventurous route and take the foot ferry from Coleman Dock, then a bus up the hill to California Ave, where our shopping adventure takes place today. 

Doll Parts Collective🪆

4832 California Ave SW, Seattle

Buzzy shop Doll Parts Collective inspired me to put together this guide. Its cute technicolor Instagram represents the shop well. When I visited, I was thrilled to see local designers, an excellent collection of vintage (in a wide range of sizes), and fun homewares and art pieces. I try to force myself not actually to shop while I research these shopping pieces, but I walked out of Doll Parts with the sweetest 1960s Yahtzee scorecards, a great and easily transportable bar game. You can expect that kind of sweet find at the store. Community activities like collage nights and crochet classes are also some of the Doll Parts offerings, so keep an eye on Instagram for events.

Antique Mall of West Seattle 🪙

4516 California Ave SW, Seattle

Three relatively unorganized floors of vintage await you at the Antique Mall of West Seattle. My mom used to bring my sister and me here to dig in this maze of vintage, and I’ve loved the nostalgia of it since. It’s the type of spot that’ll have you sneezing, but the excellent selection makes it well worth it. I have a strict rule for myself that I can only buy Fiestaware brand dishes—because if I didn’t have that rule and entered a store like this one, my credit card would be getting a workout. But homewares are not the only good finds here. I recommend keeping an eye out for accessories like brooches and hats (a very fabulous cashmere bucket hat was there when I stopped by) and fun media (cassettes, records, reel-to-reel tapes, and more). 

By and By Skateshop 🛹

4502 California Ave SW, Seattle

By and By Skateshop fits right in on a street called California Ave. The shop’s minimal design lets the hype of their skateboards, clothing, and shoes jump out at you. It’s the kind of spot that raffles off Nike Dunk Lows and closes early so staff can make it to skate film showings. Mainly a purveyor of shoes and boards, keep an eye out for the very sick merch collab the shop dropped with local artist Sasha Barr, including cozy t-shirts and hoodies. Whether you are a shredder or a hype beast (or maybe both), By and By will turn up your steeze.

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Time for a sugar bomb 🧁

Restaurants dot California Ave, but I’m looking for sweets! Bakery Nouveau has a hole-in-the-wall spot with some of the best baked goods in Seattle. Savory and sweet, I recommend a classic croissant or order ahead to snag a cake for a friend’s birthday. Or: One of the last holdouts of the 2010s cupcake craze, Cupcake Royale has stuck around for a reason. Their carrot walnut cupcake has the finest cream cheese frosting outside of homemade. And for a sunny scoop of ice cream, hit Husky Deli and maybe grab some specialty cookies for movie night, too.

Curious Kidstuff 🚸

4740 California Ave SW, Seattle

Curious Kidstuff is a time warp, a toy store that transcends toy fads and the big box toy aisle. Giant plushies and fun decorations will catch your eye upon entering, followed by its excellent selection of games, art supplies, science kits, and truly so much more. My first real job as a teen was at a toy store, and stepping into Curious Kidstuff reminded me of how sweet a neighborhood toy store is. The in-house art teacher runs classes on Mondays and Fridays and you can even host a birthday party at the shop!

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Pegasus Book Exchange 📚

4553 California Ave SW, Seattle

After helping a customer browsing next to me find a book and chatting with staff a bit, I felt like a part of the Pegasus Book Exchange community. That open vibe of this no-frills used and new bookstore is part of what makes it successful. 

Customers can rack up credit at Pegasus Book Exchange by buying and donating books. (The customer ahead of me checked out using some of their store credit.) This exchange structure fosters an ever-rotating stock thanks to patron donations. I was hunting for an Ursula K. Le Guin book, which they did not have, but they did have titles I’ve never seen in store before, which I’m sure can be attributed to their donation model! 

Donating to Pegasus Book Exchange could be your perfect post-spring cleaning stop if you have books to clear out. They accept very specific amounts of three paper grocery bags, two medium boxes, or one large box.


Miranda Hardy

Miranda is a Seattle-based writer, musician, and gal about town. You can find her at the library, your local bar’s karaoke night, and staring longingly at the Ballard Locks. Don’t ask her about AI, pop music, or why she loves Seattle because you’ll never get your ear back.

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