By John Weymer
As Sound Transit’s Link light rail construction continues to cut its path through the Stadium District, its painstaking process is impacting businesses and the families whose very livelihoods depend on their business income. Now with the holiday season upon us, it’s time for all Tacomans to step up and spend their dollars here in our own hometown by adding Stadium District shops to your Christmas list.
A centerpiece of your Stadium District experience is Stadium Thriftway. Not only has the store itself been serving customers for more than 30 years, many of the employees have as well. As much a community center as it is a grocery store, Stadium Thriftway is a local favorite due to the quality of what’s on the shelves and the likelihood of seeing your friends and neighbors there. At Christmastime you can get ornaments and decorations; small gifts and stocking stuffers; fresh greenery, little decorated trees, evergreens and poinsettias in the floral department; festive treats at the bakery; party trays at the deli; Stadium Thriftway’s own Smokehouse Turkeys and Smokehouse Bone-In Ham, and much more.
Need some tailoring done to get your Christmas or New Years outfit looking its best? Go see Franco the Tailor, in business for 30 years. Franco and son Giovanni (a.k.a. John) are expert tailors for men’s and women’s clothing. The shop also carries a handsome line of men’s imported Italian suits, featuring brands Gianni Manzoni and Hart, Schaffner and Marx, the number on clothier in the United States. Franco’s line of men’s ties all come from Italy, and no two are alike.
At Morrell’s @ Stadium Dry Cleaners, spruce up your holiday table linens or get loads of laundry washed and folded before guests arrive. Opened for business in 1972, three generations of the Morrell family work there and treat their customers like they too are part of the family.
Rankos Stadium Pharmacy could be called the “granddaddy” of Stadium businesses, serving the community at this location since the 1930s yet in business since the 1920s. In addition to taking care of their customers at the pharmacy counter, Rankos is known for carrying a wide array of unusual and quirky gifts – with complimentary gift wrap: jewelry in one of a kind costume replicas, vintage pieces and semi-precious stone earrings and necklaces; quality optical readers; vegan leather wallets and coin purses; classic toys and games; baby clothes; stationery, cards and wrapping paper. You can even buy holiday cards and mail them at the Rankos contract post office.
More gifts await at Tease Chocolates, where owners Topher and Julie Farrell produce handmade artisan chocolates, truffles, toffees, caramels, bars and more in Stadium’s own chocolate factory. Tacoma’s first bean-to-bar chocolatier, the Farrells’ expertise in transforming cocoa beans into rich chocolates is something to behold visually and gastronomically. Your taste buds will thank you – and so will any lucky recipient of any Tease confection.
Got a book lover on your list? Independent bookstore King’s Books has been a local favorite for more than 30 years. With the shelves stocked full of new and used books, this über-community-oriented bookstore spans 4,500 square feet of 100,000 titles.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite from doing all that shopping, there are all kinds of dining options in Stadium District: from Salamone’s Pizza, Indo Asian Street
Eatery, Rhein Haus Tacoma, Over the Moon Café and the Harvester, to grabbing a burger at Shake Shake Shake or Frisko Freeze.
Throughout your stay in Stadium District, there’s no need to worry about parking, as the various shops and restaurants are pretty much within walking distance of each other so you just have to park once. Home to some of Tacoma’s most historic landmarks and on the National Register of Historic Places, there really is no better way to explore the Stadium District than on foot – especially if your day includes a stroll through Wright Park and its WW Seymour Botanical Conservatory where you can stop and smell the flowers while you warm up in its tropical environs.
And don’t forget! Stadium District’s annual holiday event, the 15thannual Dickens Festival, happens on Saturday, Dec. 14 from noon to 4 p.m. Take a photo with Santa at Stadium Thriftway and enjoy live holiday music, catch a horse-drawn carriage at Rankos Pharmacy and ride to the Victorian Christmas at Wright Park, and find of seasonal deals that many of the local merchants. Learn more at dickensfestival.net.