I do my best to shop in the Snoqualmie Valley in an effort to “keep it local.” After all, I lived on Snoqualmie Ridge before there was ever a retail area – in those early homesteader days where if you forgot one ingredient for dinner, a panic attack set in and left you desperately hoping your neighbor had it.
I truly appreciate the local businesses we have here now and try to frequent them often, but like most people who live here, sometimes I leave the Valley and venture out into the world just to the west…. Issaquah.
I will admit that I am lazy AND hate traffic, so heading into Issaquah doesn’t happen often for me – especially if it’s something I can do in the Valley before I pick my daughter up from school in North Bend.
I was happy, though, when Grand Ridge Plaza opened in the Issaquah Highlands two years ago. It’s an easy, quick drive from my home and [usually] doesn’t involve the normal Issaquah traffic on Gilman Blvd or East Lake Sammamish Pkwy. Basically it’s my inner lazy mom’s dream come true.
This week we had “dress drama” in our home. My also-slightly-lazy daughter waited until the last-minute to find a dress for Mount Si High School’s Senior Tea – and apparently the Senior Tea dress is a big deal. She had scoured the North Bend Outlet Mall, but came up empty in the search for a perfect tea dress.
So the night before Senior Tea, my procrastinating daughter headed off to Issaquah to complete the dress mission. There was no time to travel to Bellevue. This was her last chance. I mentioned I’d driven by some small boutiques in the Issaquah Highlands so after exhausting the bigger stores’ inventories, she decided to give it a shot and ended up at Francesca’s.
That’s when the happy texts and pictures started coming in. It seemed she had found a nearby Senior Tea dress heaven. Within 30 minutes, she had the perfect dress, was happy and on the way home. And it cost under $50 – something I wasn’t expecting when [out of desperation] I suggested she shop at a small boutique.
I’d driven by Francesca’s numerous times, but never stopped to go in. But with an 18-year old now raving about it, I thought I’d check it out – and wasn’t disappointed.
Francesca’s is casual, comfortable and cute… just my not-too-fancy speed. I asked if Issaquah was their only location. Whoops. I guess I don’t shop enough, having no idea it is a national chain with over 500 stores across the country and about 10 in Washington. Apparently it started in Houston in 1999.
The employee told me before a new location opens, they do their best to get a feel for the specific neighborhood in an attempt to give each store a different look and feel – to “fit” the area.
The store was more than just clothes, too. There were gifts, books, wall art, jewelry, shoes/sandals, purses…. and most seemed reasonably priced. There was even a great sale rack where my inner deal shopper found a great summer shirt for just $14.
I told the very nice employee ‘thank you’ for having a cute, unique dress for my daughter, as the search had become exhausting and time had pretty much expired. The employee seemed happy to hear this, saying they specifically had a section of dresses brought in for graduations, etc. [Genius, I thought.]
I love the Snoqualmie Valley, but also love the fact that when I can’t find exactly what is needed, Issaquah is close by. And with the Issaquah Highlands, it’s even closer for the lazy, stay-close-to home, traffic-hater that I became when I moved to Snoqualmie 14 years ago.
Thank you for ending our Senior Tea dress search fiasco, Francesca’s – and for being close to home.