The story of Made In Washington

 

Every story has a beginning and ours begins with America’s favorite adventure, a road trip. In our case, founders Gillian and Jack Mathews were travelling to a neighboring state to visit friends. While there, they dropped in on a store that was all about celebrating the state they were visiting and wondered why Washington State didn't have something like that. Since its beginning, as it is now, the inspiration for our store was to specialize in merchandise that was the best Washington State had to offer.  They talked about it all the way back to Seattle.  In February of 1984 the Mathews realized their dream with the opening of our 1st store at Pike Place Market — in the newly remodeled building that was to become part of Post Alley. 

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Founders Gillian and Jack Mathews

 Made In Washington Gift Shops original 1984 logo. 

 

That first store, at 1530 Post Alley, brought an entirely new concept to our area — a wide variety of quality products, all made in Washington State by local artists, craftspeople, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. Although the business started with only 50 items, the Made In Washington concept flourished and soon we were working with over 200 makers around the state. By 1992, one store had grown into five as the "buy local" awareness was on the rise. In the US, the 1990’s was a decade of trade agreements and the global movement of merchandise was starting to take hold. Our mission was beginning to resonate even stronger with our customers. When you shop at one of our stores, it's a one-stop way to support a multitude of small businesses all producing in our state.


In 1994 new adventures beckoned our original founders and they passed the mantle to a group of local investors and Made In Washington became part of the SeaBear Company in Anacortes. In March of 2000 we launched our online store making it easier for all in-state customers, as well as displaced Washingtonians worldwide to be able to celebrate their love of our state by having access to our unique merchandise via our website. Today our website showcases over 700 shippable products and features many of the vendors you’ll find in our stores.

In 2004 we began celebrating our locally made products to a larger audience by introducing our mail-order catalog. At the height of our catalog mailings, Made In Washington was reaching over 250,000 households in our state along with Washington fans across the nation. We also introduced our 1st Limited Edition Holiday Ornament — a hand blown glass ornament made exclusively for our customers. At the start of this series the quantity was limited to 500; but, as the program grew in popularity we tied the edition number to the year it was produced. For example in 2016 we made 2,016 and in 2017 we made 2,017 and so on. Every year during summer, we begin the process of selecting the winning design for the Holiday Ornament. We review submissions looking for just the right one. Then, once the selections are narrowed down to 3 or 4 choices we invite our customers to share their opinion by casting a vote for their favorite. The final selection is then revealed when we kick-off the holiday season. They are always a sell-out and past year’s designs were even selected to represent Washington State on the White House Christmas Tree!

In 2010 we launched our Design Your Own Gift Box concept. An alternative to pre-made gift baskets, the Design Your Own Gift Box offered customers a new and custom way to build their own gift in an environmentally friendly box. The ability to choose from over 20 messages online or request a custom message has made this a top seller at Christmas and very popular throughout the year with our Business Gift customers.

In October 2018, we reinvented our flagship store in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market to become even more food-centric, by adding dozens of Washington-made, artisan food and beverage lines and giving the iconic store its first significant remodel since opening in 1984. We held a weekend-long Grand Opening and our store became the first to carry fresh-case smoked salmon direct from the SeaBear Smokehouse. As part of our product tasting initiative, we started offering SeaBear’s signature Smokehouse Tasting Flight, a bountiful smoked salmon tasting experience that aims to educate Seattle visitors, recent transplants and locals about Pacific Northwest seafood.

In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic as our retail locations were under mandatory shut-down, we introduced our Personal Shopper Service which makes it easy for in-town and out of state shoppers to buy directly from our stores which are filled with over 5 times as many items as our website – unique art items, limited inventory items, small-run specialty items, and more. We’re happy provide you with images, descriptions, and videos of items currently available in our stores.

Today, Made In Washington continues to celebrate the rich bounty of the state's food, art and lifestyle at its 3 stores throughout the Puget Sound region plus 1 licensed location at SeaTac airport, as well as our online store. Whether you are shopping for family, friends, or those you work with, you’ll be proud to share a gift that’s locally inspired, locally made, and loved everywhere, from Made In Washington.