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With live plants, flowers, and rolling hills, Glossier Seattle’s ‘experience’ starts this week on Capitol Hill

(Image: Glossier)

Starting this Wednesday, an empty corner of Broadway will look very different. Despite being across from the entrance to the bustling Capitol Hill Station, the former American Apparel store has been left vacant since early 2017 after the company filed for bankruptcy. This week, the space will be filled with rolling hills of live native plants and flowers plus the sleek, pink-centric products of Glossier, the much-hyped New York-based “millennial makeup” company that recently reached $1 billion “start-up unicorn” status.

Seattle is the latest in a string of cities the company has carefully selected over recent years to launch a lavish temporary shop in. The Glossier Capitol Hill shop opens this Wednesday.

Glossier doesn’t want it labeled a pop-up.

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The direct-to-consumer brand that started as a beauty blog and Instagram page prefers to call their six-week Seattle retail stint an “offline experience.” The 25+ locally-hired store employees are “offline editors.” They will be walking around the store in the company’s signature pink overalls not to make you feel like they are there to sell you stuff, but to “foster connections.”

The relatively young but highly valued company goes to great lengths to set itself apart from traditional cosmetics companies, who sell at drugstores or department stores. Glossier only sells direct to consumers, with the help of its website, Instagram (where it has two million followers) and brand reps or micro-influencers. After launching as an online-only business, the company has opened permanent shops in New York and Los Angeles, and temporary retail spaces in Toronto, London Miami, Chicago, and San Francisco.

Temporary Glossier shops are inspired by their temporary homes. The Glossier Miami space was inspired by the city’s art deco architecture, and Glossier highlighted San Francisco’s “food culture” by partnering with a fried chicken sandwich shop.

The Glossier pop-up shops are usually lavishly designed showrooms designed for Instagram hype and brand-building. As for the location, Glossier mostly opts for posh commercial districts such as the fancy developer-generated Miami “arts district” Wynwood, the chic and expensive Marylebone area in London or the gentrified Mission District in San Francisco.

In Seattle, the store is surrounded by a light rail station, an axe-throwing bar, a tea shop, dive bars Nacho Borracho and Highline, as well as a Rite Aid and a Verizon retailer. But the Seattle-based Glossier brand loyalists slash micro-influencers (who the company declined to name) indicated Capitol Hill was the place to be, and the retail space on the corner was available.

The shop was also an ideal blank canvas to transform into a Glossier “experience.” The company says it took inspiration for the design from the region’s natural surroundings. Landscape designer Lily Kwong created an indoor landscape of hills full of locally sourced plants and flowers. In addition to the region’s lushness, it looks like Cal Anderson Park’s Teletubby Hill may have also inspired. At night, meanwhile, the store will bask in a fluorescent purple light meant to nurture the plants. Reusable tote-bags, “plantable” wildflower seed postcards, and sales of a branded reusable water bottle further drive home the eco-theme.

Each $5 of the $15 limited edition water bottle sold will go to local nonprofit Mary’s Place, which is King County’s largest emergency shelter provider for families.

It marks the second time the brand will partner with a local nonprofit or charity.

Now that the company has reached two $100 million marks (one was revenue in 2018, one a capital infusion in March), it is playing in a new league, with different expectations. The company’s recent capital round valued the business at $1.2 billion, edging it over the $1 billion needed to officially reach “unicorn” status.

It remains to be seen what the arrival of the unicorn means to Broadway, which seems to have a new lease on life with the trend of empty retail spaces of recent years reversing.

After years of vacancy, The Broadway Grill property is hoped to soon see new activity, and Glossier neighbor, Broadway’s old sex “megastore” space, is now filled with axe-throwers, and two blocks of intense, transit-oriented mixed-use development near the light rail station are currently underway. On Pike/Pine nearby, large retail spaces are filling up or seeing new activity as well.

But the activation of the former American Apparel space doesn’t necessarily symbolize or signal boom times on Broadway. Its future as a retail space will still be uncertain after Glossier leaves. The pop-up will activate the space for just 6 weeks, until July 7th.

After that, the locally sourced plants will go to a new home. The company says it’s looking to find one for all of them.

Glossier Seattle is open at 200 Broadway E starting Wednesday, May 22nd until Sunday, July 7th. Open every day from 11 AM to 7 PM. You can learn more at


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11 thoughts on “With live plants, flowers, and rolling hills, Glossier Seattle’s ‘experience’ starts this week on Capitol Hill

  1. Everyone talks about millennials who can’t afford homes and who’re drowning in college debt, but the millennials around here must be doing pretty good to afford this crap.

    • Yeah, if only I didn’t buy face wash I would totally be debt free and own a home. Thanks for waking me up and freeing me from this prison.

      • Oh be patient with @gog he has been around for…2800+ years? I ‘d be grumpy too! (see below ;))

        Gotta check out ’em plants and make up!

        “I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on
        the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless
        beyond words. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discrete and
        respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and
        impatient of restraint.”
        — Hesiod, Eighth Century B.C.

    • Give the homeless some credit.

      I’m sure they’re well aware of the greater likelihood one has of getting high from the off-gassing of the cheap materials used to produce Glossier’s products.

      Stealing and smoking mascara provides far more value than taking the artfully displayed moss and lichen.

  2. That they painted over the beautiful, unspoiled native brick on the John side of the store with that hideous, plastic, white crap is unforgivable. This business will probably be gone in two years but the damage to that nice brick surface will last forever.

    • I thought the exact same thing…and it’s high gloss white too…ugh.

      Now we get to look at that for the next 5 plus years since no one has filled the spot since American Apparel went under.

      • In reality the facade wasn’t painted over ,they cleverly used a synthetic removable wrap or cover portions of the brick.

  3. I could care less about expensive cosmetics for certain kinds of people, but this is a good addition to Broadway, albeit temporary. It’s certainly better than an empty store.