NO CITY OR region gets to choose what it’s best known for. That, alas, typically is an artifice assembled over time, often by scribes, compilers of baseless listicles, guidebook authors, societal observers and other self-appointed pundits, usually from far-afield havens of misinformation (such as the East Coast).
Those depictions of place — for current purposes, the borderline-clichéd description of Seattle and environs as the land of caffeine, airplanes, software and now e-commerce run amok — aren’t so much inaccurate as incomplete. That’s where your local media come in: We’re the fill-in-the-blanks squad.
So we’re firing away a bit this week, shedding some light on lesser-known local manufacturers who have produced goods that make all our lives better, in small ways, and have been for a long time.
They were this writer’s answer to the question: “What are some things that Seattle isn’t known for around the world, but should be?” (This is what happens when you have meetings; sorry.)
Some of these will be familiar to “legacy” citizens, but perhaps not to newbies. And we’ve also learned that some of these products — including a famed hat, a game-changer sleeping device, some world-famous gear-mounting doohickeys and an obscure little lantern found in people’s car trunks and backpacks all around the planet — are well-known to many locals who were unaware they are Seattle products, either by way of manufacturing or design.
By chance, or probably more due to the personal lifestyle of your correspondent, a former Times outdoors reporter with a thing for gear, these iconic products all turned out to reflect the lifestyles of many others in these parts. Each has stood the test of time, as in decades, which is more than you can say about most current consumer goods.
This is not exactly a holiday shopping guide. But given the iconic status of the items involved — and the degree to which they’ve been embraced by decades of Seattleites — you could do a lot worse.
We’ll warn you up front: It takes a certain, well, disregard for what anyone thinks to pull off daily use of one of them, the Seattle Sombrero. But you’ve got that in you, right?
At some point, you will.