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Shopping at the B&I

The real deal is on South Tacoma Way

Get your bling on at the B&I Public Market Place. Photo credit: Kristin Kendle

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Go to the mall any weekend in December and you'll find throngs of shoppers. Venture forth to local hotspots like downtown, Sixth Avenue or Proctor, and you may find the same - people flocking to indie stores to keep it real and shop local. But if you really want local, look to a shopping mall that has been around longer than all of those other options put together. A mall with a history dating back to the 1940s. A mall that was once an icon. A mall for the ages.

Do your Christmas shopping at Tacoma's famous B&I Public Market Place.

Don't be so quick to dismiss this cozy maze of cubicle-walled shops. The treasures within rival anything at the mall, and if you seek unique, this is definitely the place for you. Even better, you're unlikely to score better deals in a Black Friday line than you will on any average day at the B&I, 8012 S. Tacoma Way in Tacoma.


Forget Best Buy. The B&I is the place to buy electronics this season. You'll spot a number of car stereo shops, iPhone cover havens and even a computer store. The computer store is but a counter and located directly across from the pet store near the back of the B&I, but it's a spot not to miss if you need a new laptop. A sign on the front of the counter advertises refurbished laptops for just $80!


Need something for the lady in your life? If you go to Jared, you're doing it wrong. What your lady wants is at the B&I. Bling galore sparkles from the aisles. Earrings made from oddly metallic plastic? Check. Headbands decked out in shades of shininess that only belong in space? Check. Wigs and prom dresses with ample cut-outs? Check and check. Shop here and you'll get some on Christmas night. Guaranteed. (Disclaimer - author makes no claims as to definition of "some.")

Dollar Store

Sometimes you just need to get away from it all, but perhaps you can't afford a ritzy spa vacation. No problem! The dollar store at the B&I has the answer - therapeutic massage tub mats. Ignore the fact that they look suspiciously like bubble wrap. Forget about Calgon. Let these mats take you away to a new dimension of relaxation. They're at a dollar store and they're $3.99 - that means they're good.

Car Accessories

What do you get the guy who has everything? There's no question about it. Spinner wheels are the only way to go. You can find stunning sets of spinners at the B&I for less than $30.

Pet Store

There are few independent pet stores left in this world, but the B&I pet store has been in business for decades. Why? Its selection is seriously rather awesome, and the store offers options you won't find at chain stores if you need a new fish tank or bird cage. Looking for a few mice for stocking stuffers?


Nordstrom Rack can't rival the shoe selection at the B&I, or the fact that at the time of my visit, there was a blowout sale for $9.99. And you thought Payless was a good deal? Bah! You'll also find plenty of hoodies, T-shirts - many with classy and catchy messages emblazoned on the front, and bedazzled hats. Because nothing says Merry Christmas like a bedazzled hat.

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