This Seattle-area luxury mall caters to tech moguls and ultra-rich tourists. Here's what it's like to shop there.
Bellevue, Washington is in one of the richest metro areas in America. It's home to tech moguls and billionaires like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. I went to The Shops at Bravern, Bellevue's most high-end luxury shopping mall which is located near a Microsoft campus, to see what the shopping experience is like. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Steve Ballmer — these are just some of the ultra-rich tech moguls that reside in Bellevue, Washington, a city of around 150,000 people just across a lake from Seattle. Bellevue's median listed home price is $925,000 according to Zillow, which is more than double Washington State's median listing price of $425,000 and around four times the US median listing price of $226,800. Why is Bellevue so expensive? Tech companies like Microsoft, T-Mobile, and Expedia have headquarters in the city. And that's just in Bellevue. In nearby Seattle, Amazon's headquarters have transformed a former warehouse district into a metropolis of shiny towers, not to mention the smaller branches of companies like Facebook, Uber, and Twitter. Before China instituted new rules limiting the purchase of real estate abroad, Seattle was also the top destination for Chinese homebuyers. Read more: I ate at MOD Pizza, America's fastest-growing restaurant chain, and saw why it's miles ahead of the competition I went to The Shops at Bravern, the most expensive mall in Bellevue and a Microsoft campus, to see what it's like to shop there.SEE ALSO: Exactly what to eat and do at the iconic Pike Place Market, according to a Seattle native The Shops at Bravern's designer-only lineup is housed in palatial storefronts.
I was excited that I could afford the $7 valet parking, even though I don't own a car.
There are three reasons to visit the Bravern: you work at Microsoft, you're rich and looking to burn cash, or both.
If a store directory could give you sticker shock, this one would do it.
I started at Cafe Trophy, which is an upscale cafe selling local Trophy-brand gourmet cupcakes.
The cafe also sold baked goods, local gifts, and bubbly to go with your cupcakes, baked goods, and local gifts.
Cupcakes cost $4.50 or more depending on the flavor.
The cafe also sold macarons for $2.50 a pop. Yes, that is edible silver on those pink macarons.
The cosmic purple ones were named "Milky Way".
These Instagrammable cupcakes, titled "Circus Animals," were ready for their close-up.
When I went into the Hermes store, a representative followed me around to make sure I didn't take pictures. Hermes is a popular target of luxury goods counterfeiters and recently participated in a counterfeiting sting operation against two of its own employees.
Source: The Fashion Law However, she did tell me that a majority of the store's customers were from mainland China.
The Bravern's flagship store is naturally the luxe department store chain: Neiman Marcus.
Marble floors, glowing ceilings, and local art installations everywhere — Neiman Marcus doesn't have to say "you must be this rich to shop here." It's understood.
Departments are divided by brand, with each designer receiving their own nook and sales representative.
These simple, classy totes caught my eye.
But the price tag said, "Leave, and don't look back."
Filmmaker/fashion designer/superman of the future Tom Ford had his own nook, but I dared not approach.
I was under the impression that Rudolph was the only Valentino designer, but this Garavani guy proved me wrong. After all, luxury items are meant for those "in the know."
Read more: There's a direct link between the cost of a luxury-goods product and the size of its logo, but it's not what you expect If you have to ask the price, then you can't afford it.
The cosmetics section looked like it had a trapdoor waiting for me in case I dared sneeze.
The largest size of the famous/infamous La Mer face cream was equivalent to the take-home salary of many American workers.
Read more: I tried the 'best doughnut chain in America' and found simplicity is what makes it stand out I thought a tie might be a nice gift to get my favorite fella, especially at an irresistible 70% discount.
But even at 70% off, these ties were still meant for those with more scratch.
There was a home goods section as well, but it was blindingly aspirational.
There was a model dining room on display, and I suddenly wondered if there were real dining rooms out there that looked like this one. Probably quite a few.
There was a painting by a local artist on display and for sale, because if anyone can afford to support local artists, Neiman Marcus shoppers can.
I'd never seen such fabulously flamboyant mannequins before.
I wasn't exactly sure what the store was trying to evoke because I'm not sure I've seen real people in those positions.
Still, I guess it worked, because I was definitely intrigued.
The clothes on this spine-like rack made me go "Ooooh."
But the price tag on the blouse made me go "Awww..."
I shouldn't have been surprised that there was a dedicated fur coat department, even though Seattle isn't the kind of place where the weather ever calls for fur coats.
After one look at the price tag for a fur coat, I decided it was time for me to leave.
As soon as I exited Neiman Marcus, I was confronted with a Microsoft skyscraper — a reminder of how all this wealth first came to town, and where to work if you want to shop at the Bravern.