Seattle wants to see shoppers in town and offline

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by CHRIS DANIELS / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ChrisDaniels5

KING5.com

Posted on December 22, 2011 at 6:20 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 22 at 6:41 PM

SEATTLE – The economy is down and online retailers continue to attract a big chunk of shoppers.

However, that hasn’t slowed down the woman, who calls herself "Mouse."

“I have a PHD from the school of hard knocks in retail,” jokes the owner of Magic Mouse Toys in Pioneer Square. “We appeal to all different ages, all different price points.”

She has been in the same spot for 34 years, and won't admit any concern over online retailers.

“I would find that boring to exist, why even leave your house?” Mouse says.

But the concern prompted the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau to spend “six figures” on a multimedia, multi-city campaign encouraging people to spend their “Holidays in the City.”  It includes a downloadable mobile phone app, complete with a calendar and visitor info.

“We’re trying to get people to come down and book a big city weekend,” admits David Blandford, VP of Communications for the SCVB. The tradition for several families had involved renting a hotel room, and spending a weekend shopping in the city, but that tradition had waned.

“It has been tough for hoteliers,” says Blandford, who is quick to point out that early returns show rentals are up 15 percent thanks to the campaign, combined with nicer December weather.

“Foot traffic is very important,” says Peter Aaron, of the Elliott Bay Book Company. He says, even with an Amazonian push, his Capitol Hill business is booming, possibly even record-breaking for December. “We just work on the service. That’s the most important thing for us.”

Both Aaron and “Mouse” agree there is still a market for personal interaction, unique product, and fun.

“We still want to touch things, make sure the orangutan fur is right, the baby doll smells like vanilla,” she says. “You can’t get that online”.

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