From local to global: new airport shops offer glass art and African products

Kiosk Program Celebrates 10 Years of Introducing Unique Small Business Products to Travelers

Two new small businesses offering blown glass by Seattle artists and handcrafted products from Africa opened this week near Gate A1 of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Glass Eye Studio and Africa’s Best join the airport’s unique portfolio of nearly 40 shops offering travelers travel essentials or the chance to indulge in hard-to-find local produce and duty-free options.

“Glass Eye Studio and Africa’s Best will contribute to our goal of adequately supporting minority-owned businesses and elevating an inclusive travel experience that defines SEA,” said Seattle Port Commissioner Hamdi Mohamed. “Our goal is to turn our promises into action and empower travelers to support small businesses and BIPOC-owned businesses.”

Both retailers opened as part of the airport kiosk program. The kiosk program was launched ten years ago to provide more flexible and less expensive options for new concessionaires interested in operating at the airport. The infrastructure of these spaces is provided and maintained by the port. With shorter leases and lower opening fees, this is a trial opportunity for retailers. Many kiosk retailers graduate to greater opportunities at SEA.

Glass eye studio

Glass eye studio is a must-stop for mouth-blown glass art, gifts and collectibles made by artisan glassblowers in his Seattle studio. The Pacific Northwest is synonymous with glass art and a community of glass artists that has grown exponentially over the past 50 years. Glass Eye Studio is one of the oldest privately owned hot shops in the country and has served as a training ground for some of the region’s most famous glass artists.

Now located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, the studio continues to create blown glass objects and artwork such as ornaments, bowls, paperweights, hummingbird feeders, candle holders and glassware that will be available at its SEA airport outpost.

“Founded in Pike Place Market in 1978, Glass Eye Studio has continued to thrive with the same passion and delight in all things glass,” said creative director and majority owner Piper O’Neill. “Today, as a small woman-owned business, we are proud to support a diverse and inclusive team of some of the most talented and dedicated artisans and designers in the greater Pacific Northwest. We are so excited and honored to be able to share our heritage, and that of our extended glassblowing community, with local and international SEA travelers.

The best of Africa

Africa’s Best brings goods and commodities from an African market to SEA as one of the first such concepts at a US airport. Focused on handicrafts and natural materials, this shop brings the craftsmanship and culture of Africa to travellers. Black, women and immigrant owned, Africa’s Best exclusively offers Fair Trade Certified™ products with a focus on women artisans and makers bringing a unique collection of high fashion jewelry, scarves, clothing , interior decoration and statues, leather goods, coffee, tea and spices. For example, Ethiopian coffee in small batches is hand-picked, sun-dried, and roasted using natural processes.

“Our vision is to take the traveling public on a journey inside the deeply rooted and diverse cultures of Africa with a modern twist on products imported from the continent”, said Mesh Tadesse, co-owner of Africa’s Best. “We are delighted to be at SEA and hope to grow through the booth program for the benefit of our wider African community.”

“We source our products carefully and independently to introduce the world to the artisans who make these products”, added Efrata Nadew, co-owner of Africa’s Best. “I particularly love the collection of camel leather goods which are great designs as well as scarves and garments in woven cotton which is handpicked, spun and dyed with incredible quality and skill.”

Retail at SEA

Nearly 40 retail stores are open at SEA with everything from travel essentials to luxury goods and souvenirs made in Seattle. Other recent openings include Filson, SEA Pop Culture and Natalie’s Candy Jar, all new to the N Concourse. Arrive early to shop and discover at the airport or at

Would you like to do business with the Port? Learn more about bidding opportunities with diversity and contracts.


Perry Cooper | Port of Seattle Senior Media Officer
(206) 787-4923 | [email protected]

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