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Podcast for Space Needle & Chihuly Garden and Glass

Podcast Summary

Kimball Gainor, the event manager at the iconic Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle, Washington, joined Shawn Grindle on an episode of Eventful Endeavors. Kimball shared her journey from studying broadcast journalism to finding her passion in event management. After working at a radio station affiliated with ABC, Kimball realized she felt disconnected from the community and wanted to be more involved in creating moments and connections.

She transitioned into the event world by volunteering and eventually got a job at Seattle Met Magazine, where she worked in the event department. Kimball found joy in being on-site, connecting with people, and building relationships. She realized that events and hospitality provided the opportunity to connect with others, which became her driving force. Kimball’s love for people and relationship building led her to focus on business development in sales.

In the interview, Kimball also mentioned the challenges of working in the event hospitality industry and how she persevered through them. The eventful and fast-paced nature of the industry requires hard work and dedication. Despite the challenges, Kimball found fulfillment in her role and continued to grow professionally.

As the event manager at the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass, Kimball is responsible for managing private events at both properties. The Space Needle is an iconic landmark, offering breathtaking views of Seattle, while Chihuly Garden and Glass showcases the stunning glasswork of renowned artist Dale Chihuly.

Kimball’s journey from journalism to event management highlights her passion for creating connections and engaging experiences. Through her work at the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass, she continues to bring people together and create memorable events.

This interview was provided by Felix and Fingers Dueling Pianos.

Podcast Transcript

Shawn Grindle (00:00.974)
All right, all right. Welcome back to another episode of Eventful Endeavors. I’m really excited today. We are here with Kimball, who is the event manager over at the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington. So this is probably the most iconic venue, iconic thing we’ve had yet. So thank you for being here. I appreciate it.

Kimball Gainor (00:21.725)
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for having me.

Shawn Grindle (00:24.526)
Yeah, so before we even jump into the venue, talk to me a little bit about yourself, because you told me some of this stuff, how you were doing journalism, then came into events, and at some point in there you were Miss Seattle. So just run me through your story so I can clarify what’s happening. How’d you get into this?

Kimball Gainor (00:40.925)
Yes, absolutely. I think it’s just, I will say I absolutely never, so I’m the sales manager at the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass. We manage private events at both properties. And I will say I absolutely, at least Kimball growing up and going to school never thought once I would have sales manager in my title or that I would be here right now, but basically in school. I was…

thinking I was going to go into broadcast journalism, worked super hard to finally get my foot in the door at this news station. It was a radio station, which was a little sister to ABC. It was an ABC affiliate. So it’s like, all right, I finally made it. I was actually joking with one of my coworkers earlier that I was like, this was the type of like, I’ll scrub the floor with my toothbrush. I’ll do whatever it takes to get my foot in the door in this industry.

Shawn Grindle (01:34.99)

Kimball Gainor (01:36.989)
And then I finally did and it took so long and I started working there and I can’t remember exactly when it hit me but maybe around six months in I was doing these overnight shifts, right? Because I was the new girl with the terrible schedule. And I remember sitting in the studio thinking I’m sitting in this small dark studio on a hill and kind of in the middle of nowhere.

Shawn Grindle (01:49.686)
Mm -hmm.

Kimball Gainor (02:03.549)
talking about these things that are going on and just feeling so disconnected from it. Like I’m just not a part of what’s happening and creating those moments and really being a part of that community. I felt very disconnected. And so from there, and probably also because I was feeling depressed in the news world, working these overnight shifts, I wanted to just start getting more out in the field, out in the community.

Shawn Grindle (02:24.878)

Kimball Gainor (02:29.565)
I was already a part of other organizations where I was volunteering and a part of a lot of events. I just never really put together that events could be what I actually do. And then news taught me that I didn’t want to work in news and I wanted to go more lifestyle culture. So I ended up getting a job. It was at Seattle Met Magazine where I got to be a part of more of that lifestyle culture.

an event world. They had an event department over there that honestly just started helping them. And then before I knew it, I was like, here I am. I’m like in the community. I’m on site and connecting with these people and meeting them there. And I’m making a friend on the catering team. Like everything just started to feel really connected and really powerful. Um, and one of the reasons why I love events in hospitality too, is I just, it’s that connection to people that drives me for sure. So.

I love coffee, but I also like my caffeine is people and connection and relationship building and even more so now in sales that like business development. And then one event job just kind of turned into another put in quite a few years, honestly, just with my head down, humbly working, we get our butts kicked a lot in the event hospitality world, especially when you’re going when you’re

Shawn Grindle (03:25.134)

Shawn Grindle (03:45.902)

Kimball Gainor (03:49.873)
in events and hospitality through COVID, right? We all learn so much through that. But putting the work in and just kind of, you know, working on turning those wheels, making those connections, eventually it was actually a personal connection that helped me get, or through networking too, but that helped me get my foot in the door here. And now here I am on this events team, which, like you said, the most iconic spaces in Seattle.

Shawn Grindle (04:17.326)
Yeah, that’s really exciting. So how did the, how did Miss Seattle come about? Talk to me about that.

Kimball Gainor (04:21.5)
So you asked for a fun fact and I like to tell this story just because I, it was all an accident. I really stumbled into pageants on accident. In fact, I was putting myself through school. I went to Western Washington University and I was honestly, I had about my first two years covered with, I worked way too hard in high school. Like I had my first two years covered in scholarship.

Shawn Grindle (04:24.662)

Shawn Grindle (04:30.968)

Kimball Gainor (04:50.205)
The last two years were up to me to put myself through school. I was working, I think, three jobs at the time. And looking back, I was like, dang, I was in sales before I even knew it. I was a tour guide over at Western. But yeah, I actually feel like I just forgot what I was saying.

Shawn Grindle (04:50.862)

Shawn Grindle (04:59.2)

Shawn Grindle (05:10.734)
You’re fine, you’re fine. We were talking about the pageantry, how you got into that. Yeah, yeah.

Kimball Gainor (05:14.525)
Oh yeah, yeah. So, so, okay, last two years, right, were up to me to, I was applying to a lot of really anything I qualified for actually. And it was my mother, my sweet mom, who found in the Bellingham Herald a little clip, a little newspaper clip that said scholarship opportunity and now accepting applications to Miss Whatcom Powney 2012. And we were like, no way.

no lady pageants at the Lulz Fest. I have two older brothers, I grew up as a tomboy with a lot of dirt in my, you know, lots of wrestling and mud, it’ll hand me downs, all those things, but shoot, I was like, let’s go for it, why not? And then it turned out the Miss America program is, the little pitch there is it is a scholarship program. And when you compete, you compete for scholarship dollars, so.

Shawn Grindle (05:44.78)

Shawn Grindle (05:48.342)

Kimball Gainor (06:06.013)
I, before I knew it, I was deep in this world of it’s very community and volunteer based, very community oriented. You have a service project for your community. So kind of that event world already and that love of events was there too. But then when I, okay, so I was like, all right, let’s do it. I competed, ended up winning before I knew what I had gotten myself into. Once you’re a title, you kind of.

qualify for like the next level, right? Which then eventually was Miss Seattle. And I have to say that was the beginning of, yeah, just like building those connections and getting to be on site, getting to be a part of all different kinds of events. And yeah, it’s a little fun fact. It’s like my little Hannah Montana, like two worlds. If you saw me, you would never know until I’m like.

Shawn Grindle (06:40.462)

Shawn Grindle (06:57.196)

Kimball Gainor (07:00.413)
they’re just randomly like, why are we wearing crowns on our head and sashes? Like it’s a whole thing. It’s a little silly, but it’s also what you make of it, which I think events are too. And like I said, very volunteer. Yeah. Volunteer based and kind of helped me get my foot in the door in some Seattle spaces.

Shawn Grindle (07:09.102)
Yeah, I mean, yeah, it’s exactly.

Shawn Grindle (07:17.198)
Well, that’s really cool. You definitely win the award for most interesting fact, I think. That’s definitely, that’s, was very interesting. Um, I, yeah, yeah. So, so let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about the space. Let’s talk about the venue a little bit. Um, obviously everybody, and for the most part knows what the space needle is, but not everybody knows about the garden and glass and all that stuff. I’ve been there myself many times and I, I love that whole spot. So talk to me a little bit about, for people that might not know.

Kimball Gainor (07:21.149)
I was ready to throw you off.

Kimball Gainor (07:30.213)

Shawn Grindle (07:44.782)
the two spaces, what they are, like how they work and, you the differences with them and all that.

Kimball Gainor (07:50.397)
Yeah, for sure. And obviously that’s a big part of my job now, right? Is everyone knows about the Space Needle. For the most part, Chihuly Garden and Glass. But what a lot of people don’t know is that while we are all that, the Space Needle and Chihuly, the whole venue, the whole experience of famous, popular public attraction that’s operating every day to the public, both spaces are private event venues. And obviously public.

Shawn Grindle (07:53.974)

Kimball Gainor (08:18.461)
famous public attractions first and private event venue second. But both spaces actually, along with being the whole venue that, you know, the Amazons or Ubers or the big money clients of the world can do a whole buyout and have a company holiday party at the top of the Space Needle, we are also both spaces break down into much smaller private event venues too. So, so we actually here at

Shawn Grindle (08:39.15)

Kimball Gainor (08:48.093)
both spaces can host private events that range from 10 people to 1500 people. The space needle, yeah, a lot of people don’t know that, of course, the space needle, you think of the top top, you’ve got that top house, which is around 550 feet high and beyond. But 100 feet high is our, it’s called our skyline private event level. And back in the day,

Shawn Grindle (08:55.016)
Oh well.

Shawn Grindle (09:02.568)
Mm -hmm.

Shawn Grindle (09:15.784)
I did not know that.

Kimball Gainor (09:17.309)
Yeah, back in the day when the Space Needle used to have a restaurant, which also actually I’m still, that’s been a part of my job too. And people are reaching out to make dinner reservations at the old restaurant. We are no longer a restaurant. The top two levels have been opened up for this whole like guest flow experience and can be bought out for private events, which if you have a lot of dollars in your event budget work for you. But shoot, Skyline private event level, it is the only private event level at the Space Needle.

but we’re not meeting obviously to close to the public in order to host your private event. So while you can have some big dollar elevated fancy events here, we can also do, you know, your Uncle Tom’s birthday party and even just corporate meetings and really standard, sweet and simple events on Skyline. And then…

Shawn Grindle (10:13.448)
Yeah, that’s interesting because I would have expected like, you know, people would think like, oh, it’s a space needle. It’s got to be like the most expensive things. They probably have to buy it out. That’s cool. So you can do it on like a Saturday afternoon while people are still visiting, you can still have this event. So it’s just, uh, yeah.

Kimball Gainor (10:19.485)
Right, exactly.

Kimball Gainor (10:26.365)
Exactly. Yeah. And I think that is a big part of my job and what I work on now, just kind of reconnecting with where after we’re well enough post COVID, like we are full steam ahead. But so much has changed at the Space Needle and actually continues to change. We’re undergoing an elevator modernization project right now for the next three years, which makes event logistics really fun because everything has to go up and down those elevators, whether or not we have one. But yeah, it’s just that.

Shawn Grindle (10:36.198)
Oh yeah.

Shawn Grindle (10:50.824)

Kimball Gainor (10:55.101)
Yes, I mean, you can have that whole top house event and spend all your money, but you can also, there’s some very, very doable, even budget friendly event opportunities at both spaces. And similar over at Chihuly, you can book out the full closure. You’ve got the interior galleries and the event in the glass house, and there’s the glass gardens. But we also have now the bar at Chihuly, which is a smaller private event space that is right off of Chihuly Gardening class.

Shawn Grindle (11:12.208)

Kimball Gainor (11:23.869)
as well as some other smaller spaces that are similar. I could book a 10 person event for people to go hang out in the Arbor Room and have a lovely baby shower.

Shawn Grindle (11:36.36)
That’s awesome. That’s really cool. Yeah, I had no idea that there were so many options over there. It’s a lot of fun. Do you guys do mostly weddings or is it mostly corporate stuff? Like is it half and half? Like what’s your main thing?

Kimball Gainor (11:47.997)
Yes, I love that question. So we have a team right now. We’re very excited. Okay, 2024. This is the year. We are finally there was a lot of rebuilding after COVID. And then I would say too, and I think a lot of events and hospitality, catering, food and beverage, you know, companies can relate that.

Shawn Grindle (11:55.88)
This is the year.

Kimball Gainor (12:08.669)
there was a need for almost mass hiring. And then there was a little bit of a need for kind of weeding that out and figuring out who really was the good fit. If you’re hiring a lot of people at one time, it can get a little messy, but you know, we finally got there. We have this team, we’re fully staffed. Like our team is set and ready to rock for 2024. And what that means is we have sales managers, so we’re on the sales and events team, but we have sales managers and we have event planning managers.

Shawn Grindle (12:17.032)

Kimball Gainor (12:35.357)
And I believe this is one of the only spaces that actually separates those two roles. For example, at my last job with an event company here in Seattle, I was booking all of my events, right? And then I was planning those events. So you would be like from inquiry to invoice. But here it’s much more separated because it is such a massive attraction and operation. And by nature,

Shawn Grindle (12:51.642)

Kimball Gainor (13:02.205)
our department causes a lot of other departments a lot of problems, right? When we book that buyout, which we love, because we love those event dollars, but when we book that buyout, we are closing the space needle or chihuly to the public and people are traveling from all over the world to come, you know, see these spaces. But yeah.

Shawn Grindle (13:09.384)

Shawn Grindle (13:18.568)
to see it right.

Shawn Grindle (13:27.432)
Yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah. Um, so let me ask you this. So speaking of just like buyouts and all that stuff, I mean, what’s like the availability like there? I mean, are you guys booked far in advance? Do you still have like dates open? I mean, how far do people book these things? I feel like an attraction like that’s going to get booked up pretty quickly. Yeah.

Kimball Gainor (13:46.301)
Yeah, that’s a really good question too. And also I’m just like so excited. I was, I’ll finish that the here with the sales and events being completely separate. There’s now three sales managers and there’s three event planning managers. And then we have our VP of sales and events as well. But the three sales managers are actually split because we’re all selling the exact, the same two venues. We all have the same dates on the calendar. We’re split by markets. So to your question of the majority of what our events look like.

Shawn Grindle (13:55.696)

Shawn Grindle (14:15.074)

Kimball Gainor (14:16.381)
So I know, see, I got so excited. I was like, I forget where I’m going with this sometimes.

Shawn Grindle (14:21.264)
I love it. It seems like a really, really solid operation. I like that you guys got it organized. Yeah.

Kimball Gainor (14:24.093)
There’s just a lot going on over here, Sean. So social is in my market, which includes all of our weddings. And I would say within the social category, well, I’ll list a few off to give you an example. Social, health care, transportation, education. Dartmouth was reaching out for an alumni event. That would be in my market. And then my favorite is sports. I’m a big sporty spice over here. So any sports related events.

Shawn Grindle (14:30.126)

Shawn Grindle (14:44.59)

Shawn Grindle (14:50.8)
for a second.

Kimball Gainor (14:52.637)
or would go to me to, you know, to bring in the business, try and book them, build those relationships, those partnerships, and then host their events here in Seattle. And I had mentioned this to you in my forum before the podcast, but like what a time for sports in Seattle. So the wave, you know, it kind of changes based on tech was, when tech was booming, you know, Amazon and Microsoft were banging down the doors to have their events here when…

Shawn Grindle (14:54.544)

Shawn Grindle (15:09.36)

Kimball Gainor (15:20.957)
things like that slow down a little bit. You just kind of see different markets throughout the years trending in different ways. But social, weddings and sports have been the two most popular categories for my just overall, I would say what’s kept me the busiest throughout 2023. But yeah, there’s a little bit of everything. So that’s also why we have the…

Um, you know, like I like aunt Susan who’s reaching out for her 20 person.

Shawn Grindle (15:54.384)

Kimball Gainor (15:54.449)
engagement party and then the, yeah, Microsoft, which wants to do, we call it block party, which is when you bought out both Julie garden and glass and the space needle. We fence all the way around it. And then boom, yeah, big money, big money. We love that. And then you have an event. Yeah. And then you have an event for 1500 people.

Shawn Grindle (16:08.948)
Yeah. Yeah, that’s all you, you know, that would match in the big companies. Yeah.

Kimball Gainor (16:18.877)
And we’re in Seattle Center, but we’re not a part of Seattle Center. We’re both, we’re privately owned, the Space Suitel and Chihuly Garden and Glass. But we, I think a big goal for 2024, and just something I’m really excited about too, is we’re in Seattle Center. We have a lot of awesome, unique venues around us too, and working on those relationships, we’ve had events that were big enough that while MoPOP isn’t a part of us, we work closely with them, we’re neighbors with them.

and have done block parties where we’re actually fenced all the way around these other venues too. And you’re just creating this like insane private experience in Seattle Center that, you your average guest who’s purchasing a ticket to the top is never gonna know what that feels like. And then to your question on booking windows and where we’re, I mean, we…

Shawn Grindle (16:52.496)
Oh nice.

Shawn Grindle (16:59.184)

Shawn Grindle (17:06.544)

Kimball Gainor (17:12.445)
do not have an issue with a lack of inquiries and a lack of we’re pretty easy to find, right? But that being said too, it’s a high volume of inquiries we’re working through and qualifying because not everybody is certainly reaching out is know what they’re doing, but that’s what we’re here for or has it in their budget. But kind of based on what type of event it is and what space it is changes the booking window.

Shawn Grindle (17:16.304)

Shawn Grindle (17:28.048)

Kimball Gainor (17:40.701)
So as I mentioned, you can think of the Chihuly Garden and Glass, for example, the full closure of this huge event. You have an event for 500 people with this full closure. I can book you one year out. If you’re looking to book a smaller space at Chihuly, we wouldn’t book you until a much, much shorter window. Say you want to just book the bar at Chihuly. Maybe send your guests through the interior galleries to enjoy them while…

Shawn Grindle (18:06.8)

Kimball Gainor (18:07.613)
Chihuly gardening glass is operating to the public, but you want your guests to land at the bar at Chihuly for your private event reception. That would be a shorter window, like six years, 45 days out. And same with the space needle. And the space needle especially, and as we joke, there’s no space at the space needle, especially when the space needle is undergoing construction, which we are. We have three elevators that generally operate.

Shawn Grindle (18:21.808)
That makes sense.

Shawn Grindle (18:32.272)
Oh, yeah.

Kimball Gainor (18:36.465)
and help us keep up with public business levels as well as private event business levels. But even being down one elevator really changes the game. So some of our windows honestly just change in response to what’s going on with our operation. And because they are such iconic spaces and everybody has their eye on them, there’s a lot of projects happening all of the time. So really we’re…

as salespeople were navigating even just the no’s we get internally because we, like I said, are not a private event venue first and have these massive goals as an iconic, famous attraction. So yeah, it keeps things interesting. And then you’re really learning how to connect with your client and send them in the right direction. And I will also, because…

We’re so busy to the public, especially in the summer. Our rates are, I’ll say it, I’ll say it, they’re a lot higher. They’re pretty high in the summer. I mean, buying off a space needle, we wouldn’t even really consider it in the summer just because we’d be turning away so many general additions. But that’s, you’re looking at, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars. Or let me tell you about like, I don’t know, a Wednesday afternoon in November.

Shawn Grindle (19:40.504)

Shawn Grindle (19:48.208)
Yeah, just.

Kimball Gainor (19:59.901)
and you can buy off the loop level for 30K. So it’s just, it’s a lot of understanding your client’s needs and sending them in the right direction. And I’m kind of working on too, because we manage both properties, but they’re both so different. So kind of steering them to like maybe this actually what you’re looking for, what you think you’re looking for isn’t the right fit. Well, let me tell you about this cool meeting space on the hundred foot level of the space needle, things like that.

Shawn Grindle (20:00.75)


Shawn Grindle (20:25.52)
Right. We can do something for you, but this one might be out of the cards. Also, can I just say, I condone everybody getting married on a Wednesday. I got married on a weekday. I’m all for it. Yeah. Things are cheaper and it’s better.

Kimball Gainor (20:33.661)
Yeah, honestly, I mean it, seriously.

I all for it. Absolutely. And people are dropping even people are dropping money. And this is actually this is the first these are the first spaces I’ve worked at with such dynamic pricing because even in the same month, even the same weekend, a Saturday compared to a Sunday, it could be like easy 20k difference. And what I’ve learned is people are out there and have that money. And that’s fun. But I for sure and like,

Shawn Grindle (20:47.472)
Oh yeah.

Shawn Grindle (20:59.6)

Shawn Grindle (21:06.832)

Kimball Gainor (21:08.669)
You guys, it’s all about the Wednesday weddings and yeah, I’m saving 20k, are you kidding? Anyways, but some people will do it. Yeah.

Shawn Grindle (21:11.374)

Shawn Grindle (21:15.664)
Yeah, I’m doing a few, it’s starting. I’m doing a few Thursday weddings next month, like a Thursday in February. And I was like, this is great. I was like, I can work with whatever budget you got really, because I’m not going to be doing anything else that day. So it’s great. Well, not whatever budget, but you know what I mean.

Kimball Gainor (21:22.013)
There you go.


Kimball Gainor (21:29.629)
Exactly, yeah. If anything it’ll just help weed out a little bit of your discount and then you don’t have to pay for as much catering.

Shawn Grindle (21:38.32)
That’s what I say. I feel like most weddings, there’s like, you know, you probably could, there’s 40 people that you probably didn’t care if they were there or not, you know, let’s lower that a little bit. Speaking of weddings, so I have some fun questions I want to ask that I ask everybody. And these are just mostly for me, because I’ve heard some answers all over the place. So the first one is, and it doesn’t have to be wedding specific, it can be events or anything, but what’s the most kind of unique thing?

Kimball Gainor (21:45.147)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kimball Gainor (21:55.069)

Shawn Grindle (22:05.328)
that you’ve seen either like a couple do at a wedding or somebody did at an event, something that you’ve never really seen before that you think more people should look at.

Kimball Gainor (22:14.429)
Well, okay, I think that’s two different questions because what’s something I’ve never seen before was I did a furry wedding at my, yes, at my last vlog. Yup. And I’ll never forget it because on the tour, they asked about if we had a dress code on site and I never really had that question before. And we were like, I mean, not really, it’s a private event venue. Just.

Shawn Grindle (22:17.55)

Shawn Grindle (22:24.848)
Wait, like everybody dressed up is like, okay. Yeah, I don’t imagine you would.

Kimball Gainor (22:43.229)
be like, oh, wear clothes, but like wear what you want. It was just a sea of animals. And I remember the ceremony. I remember the ceremony. I was standing behind it because I’m making sure I’m looking out, making sure everything’s going well. The ceremony had just begun. And I just remember looking up and just seeing all these tails sticking out of the tree.

Shawn Grindle (22:45.326)

Shawn Grindle (23:05.296)
That’s weird, that’s a weird one.

Kimball Gainor (23:05.693)
That was something I had never seen before. And one of the greatest couples I’d ever worked with, the bride cut the cake with a machete, like full on straight arms and everything. They so gently and kindly approved with us first. She’s like, I will be bringing a sword on site if that’s okay. And we’re like, do it.

Shawn Grindle (23:10.264)

Shawn Grindle (23:14.288)
That’s amazing.

Shawn Grindle (23:22.)
How many people do they have? Was it like a big wedding? I can’t even imagine. I mean, getting 100 people to do that is just impressive. Like honestly. That’s amazing.

Kimball Gainor (23:24.861)
They don’t have 100 people.

Kimball Gainor (23:30.269)
They were leaning into the theme for sure. But something I’ve seen that I’m like, okay, let’s get some more people to take a look at this. That’s a really good question. Honestly, kind of just back to what we were just chatting about, just being, I think COVID did really help just shake up what your average wedding looks like or needs to look like and really has people kind of rethinking what is the most important to you.

Shawn Grindle (23:52.016)

Kimball Gainor (23:57.885)
But looking outside of the sovereign day, like save some money, use it for your honeymoon, go to, of course I’m saying that as a sales manager, spend all your money on the wedding. But just being more open to what, yeah, to what that looks like and smaller, more intimate parties, I think mean a lot more to me in the events world than they did before. And I remember how devastating that was for clients that I had booked.

Shawn Grindle (24:02.328)

Of course, yeah, we… Yeah, yeah, of course.

Shawn Grindle (24:16.624)

Kimball Gainor (24:23.495)
throughout COVID that originally had their 250 people guest count and ended up with parties of 40 maybe max and watching what felt like such a plan B turn into a plan A. And how that was really special, yeah.

Shawn Grindle (24:41.232)
Yeah, well, so similar question though, and I mean, you know, you had the furry thing for the interesting one, but what is probably the most cringiest thing you’ve seen? That you’re like, please nobody ever do this, this is so uncomfortable, I don’t like it.

Kimball Gainor (24:56.829)
Yeah, I you know, what really gets me is people don’t say in the front row at wedding ceremonies. So it just because everyone just thinks it’s going to be a row that saved but unless those chairs have like reserved on that get up in that front row because I have had

Shawn Grindle (25:00.208)

Shawn Grindle (25:06.256)
What is that? I’ve noticed that.

Shawn Grindle (25:14.544)
have reserved.

Kimball Gainor (25:20.157)
rides truly in tears later that they’re like, you know, in their memory, perfect day. And that’s what we want, of course. And then they’re going back through their photos and they’re like, oh my gosh, like my photos, it looks empty. And in the first two rows and everyone’s pushed in the back, like that just, I don’t know if that just kills me. And so does, I mean, the cringe for me is I’m just very like socially aware and in tune with the energies around me. And if music is not playing during your cocktail hour, we’re going to have a problem.

Shawn Grindle (25:26.382)

Shawn Grindle (25:34.318)

Shawn Grindle (25:45.518)

Shawn Grindle (25:49.424)
Yeah, yeah, that’s always silence. Silence in general is not really great. Silence is not a good thing. Silence is uncomfortable and grits people. Oh yeah, I know for sure. I’m like, I don’t like silence. It’s like dead air, dead air. It’s uncomfortable. So yeah, that’s definitely a big one for me. And then, okay, so this one I wanna ask because…

Kimball Gainor (25:50.365)
Yeah, big major fringe factor.

Yeah, yeah, right. I mean, you know, of all people, yeah, you understand.

Kimball Gainor (26:05.373)
See ya.

Shawn Grindle (26:12.816)
What’s your main piece of advice for anybody who’s just say they just got engaged or they’re just starting to plan their event? Like what’s your number one piece of advice? Like step one.

Kimball Gainor (26:24.221)
Yeah, step one, hire a planner first. Like step one, I honestly, I don’t care how much you can DIY and you have your Pinterest boards and everything locked down on Etsy and you’re the most organized type A person of all time. Like stop it, don’t do it. It’s just don’t do it. It’s so stressful. You only get this day once, right?

Shawn Grindle (26:31.97)

Shawn Grindle (26:47.47)

Shawn Grindle (26:50.958)

Kimball Gainor (26:51.229)
it’s so much more work than you think that it is. It’s why it’s such a massive industry and just already taking that off of your shoulders. And I’m saying that as a sales manager and also, like I said in my last role, doing both the sales and event planning, but not being there’s a there’s a huge difference between an event and venue planning manager and a wedding planner and like.

day of coordinator, right? So we’re finalizing the bones of your event. We’re finalizing our services with you, but there’s so much more even beyond that, that you don’t know you don’t know. Just it’s made it it’s a better experience for absolutely everybody. We used to joke. Yeah, we used to joke at a former role that like it’s always the caterers fault, it always ends up being the caterers fault. And it’s like, I remember that bride crying. Why?

Shawn Grindle (27:21.01)
Yeah, all different.

Shawn Grindle (27:32.144)

Shawn Grindle (27:37.554)
Yep, I am all about it.

Kimball Gainor (27:47.739)
weren’t their guests sitting in my front two rows of my wedding ceremony, and I’m gonna have these photos of empty seats forever. And I wanted to say, sis, you didn’t hire a day coordinator. You didn’t have someone. Yeah, you didn’t have stuff. But those are like the little details that make a big difference. They’re also the ones who bring the whole day together. There’s a lot that happens even outside of venue access at any venue you book a wedding at for the most part. So just, just.

Shawn Grindle (27:58.642)
They might’ve told people.

Shawn Grindle (28:03.826)
that people will think about.

Shawn Grindle (28:08.688)

Shawn Grindle (28:12.656)
Oh yeah.

Kimball Gainor (28:16.477)
even just having someone, even if you can do it, having someone to take the pressure off of you because you’ll look back and know that you weren’t able to fully be in the moment of your day. And like I said, you only get that day once and it flies by fast.

Shawn Grindle (28:30.994)
The most fun day I’ve ever had. And yeah, I had a great, I had a, I got married, so I actually live in LA right now. And I had my wedding in a Sylmar at this place called Reptacular Animals Ranch, who I just actually interviewed them a couple weeks back. So we’ll have an episode with them. And it was just very, it was kind of the, I did have a planner, but it was a very DIY space. Like they provided the venue and that was it. Like there was no catering, there was no bar service, like you brought in everything.

Kimball Gainor (28:32.647)
Oh, I love that. Where did you get married?

Kimball Gainor (28:37.787)

Kimball Gainor (28:47.549)

Shawn Grindle (28:59.314)
which I wanted because I work in events and I was like, you know, I worked with the planner, but I was like, I think this is what we want to do. Like I wanted that kind of open canvas. And it was really, really cool. It was about a hundred degrees, but it was very, very fun. The wedding itself and there were animals and it was just, you know, we’re a little wild like that. Speaking of which, that was actually my last question about the venue. Do you guys, is everything there? Do you guys have in -house catering, in -house bar?

Kimball Gainor (29:02.299)

Kimball Gainor (29:17.031)
Oh my gosh, amazing. Yeah.

Shawn Grindle (29:27.612)
Do they need to bring in anything other than say like their entertainment and photography?

Kimball Gainor (29:32.797)
Yeah, so yes and no. We have at some event spaces, for example, the private event level on Skyline. Everything’s in house, tables, chairs, china glassware, flatware, linen. You can make your whole event happen with everything that’s in house. And that’s a dream for the client often, for us as well.

Shawn Grindle (29:42.704)

Shawn Grindle (29:51.344)

Kimball Gainor (29:56.655)
The bar at Chihuly and the loop lounge, which is another smaller private event space at the top of the space needle. Those spaces come as is. You’ll never make a floor plan for that space. The floor plans won’t change. Everything’s just like set and ready to go, including even in -house AB and background music, right? Because those are also spaces that are operating to the public. And then you have spaces like the glass house, which is more customizable. The glass house comes with two

Shawn Grindle (30:16.656)

Kimball Gainor (30:26.559)
tables, China glassware, flatware, but pretty much everything else we’re outsourcing and bringing in. So that’s when the event planning manager really comes in clutch because they’re helping coordinate all those details and just the complicated logistics of being in Seattle Center and not being a private event vendor first and not having loading docks or having to fit everything in an elevator to get to the right level. But there is a little bit of everything too. So that also goes back to

Shawn Grindle (30:46.074)

Kimball Gainor (30:56.479)
Just a big part of my role and what I was mentioning earlier is that there’s such a variety of what we can offer and what is already available to you and also what you can create here in the spaces.

Shawn Grindle (31:13.906)
Do you guys, out of curiosity, because I’m going to guess I know the answer, but do you guys require an event planner?

Kimball Gainor (31:20.605)
We, I don’t even want to say it’s not written in the contract because it should be. We, I think just with the level of events, when it comes to more corporate style events, and even those companies already have in -house event planners as well. But for weddings, we, yeah, we would require that you have a day of coordinator.

Shawn Grindle (31:26.29)
Sure. Right.

Shawn Grindle (31:34.544)

Shawn Grindle (31:43.026)

Kimball Gainor (31:45.469)
And honestly, it’s me catching you from the very beginning, from our very first conversation, just explaining to you why. Because even on the other side of that, like they weren’t even my weddings, but being on the other side of that and seeing how the little details can fall apart so fast is just like, let me just catch you before we even get to that place.

Shawn Grindle (31:45.798)

Shawn Grindle (31:50.578)

Shawn Grindle (31:57.394)
Mm -hmm.

Shawn Grindle (32:07.506)
But I think that’s good though, that’s also like, you know, people need to hear that and they need to trust that you’ve got their best interest in mind. You know, it’s like, listen, I’m not trying to sell you on anything, I’m not trying to make you spend more money, I’m just telling you that if you don’t do this, you’re going to regret it. Like, yeah.

Kimball Gainor (32:13.981)
Oh yeah.

Kimball Gainor (32:21.949)
I know it and I’ve been in the in the event industry now for so long that it makes so much sense to me but I do check myself and remember if I was reaching out as a ride not being in this world I would have no idea. I would have no idea and I would probably have no idea what my budget is or how much I should or shouldn’t be spending on certain vendors. So hire that planner right away find someone you connect with someone that you honestly vibe with too because your vendors are

Shawn Grindle (32:40.402)

Shawn Grindle (32:45.392)

Shawn Grindle (32:50.866)

Kimball Gainor (32:51.903)
such a big part of your event that I think their energy matters. And maybe I’m just biased because I’m a vendor, if you will. But all of that energy is going into your event and what’s making your event real and like turning into this real experience. And I think that that can make a difference too. So you’re already off to a good start. If you have that planner on your side and then they’ll connect to you, then they’ll understand your vibe and then they’ll be.

Shawn Grindle (32:57.68)


Kimball Gainor (33:21.873)
helping you connect with the other right vendors.

Shawn Grindle (33:25.17)
still friends with some of my vendors actually like I see them every once in a while. My wedding coordinator actually got married the year after me and I just played her ceremony. I was like oh it was like a she got married on like a Tuesday afternoon so I wasn’t booked I was like where is it and it was like 10 minutes from my house I’m like I’ll come play your ceremony don’t even worry about it. So it was really fun.

Kimball Gainor (33:28.061)
Good, I love that, yeah.

Kimball Gainor (33:35.741)
I love that.

Kimball Gainor (33:39.997)
There you go.

Kimball Gainor (33:43.645)
Fantastic. And that is so, that even goes back to like, that’s why I’m in events. Like it’s a spider web. It’s a spider web that just continues to grow and grow and grow. You’re continuing to be out there exposed to new people, connecting with new people constantly just like.

Shawn Grindle (33:50.96)

Kimball Gainor (34:03.325)
getting these opportunities to keep leveling up with those experiences and the connections that you’re making. And it just, it never has to stop. It’s just like one door after another. You can just keep knocking on.

Shawn Grindle (34:14.514)
Yeah, exactly. Well, and okay, so I don’t want to take too much of your time, but I do have one last question, and it might be the most important question. You mentioned Sporty Spice earlier, and you also said you have a dog named Ginger Spice, so I’m guessing you’re like a big Spice Girls fan, is that what I’m gathering here?

Kimball Gainor (34:22.109)

Kimball Gainor (34:30.813)

Kimball Gainor (34:34.909)
Yes, I’m a 90s baby. I actually didn’t catch that I did that either, but with sports in my market.

Shawn Grindle (34:37.594)

I caught it. Yeah.

Kimball Gainor (34:42.237)
With sports in my market, with Seattle sports really popping off and just these amazing events we got to start doing, the sports market blew up this last year. So I’ve been known as sporty spice in the office, but yes, my dog daughter, and truly the reason for why I work so hard every day to put that food on the table, to put that food in the bowl on the floor, to keep buying, yeah, to keep, yeah.

Shawn Grindle (34:52.466)

Shawn Grindle (35:05.042)
The fancy food, you know, the fancy food, you know. Yeah.

Kimball Gainor (35:09.469)
keep buying those stuffed lambs that she likes to de -stuff. Her name is Ginger Spice and she is also a Spice Girls. We’re just out here just doing our thing. We’re Spice Girls out on the town just trying to add a little spice to the industry here in Seattle.

Shawn Grindle (35:11.94)

Shawn Grindle (35:18.802)
That’s amazing.

Shawn Grindle (35:26.034)
I love it. What kind of dog is she?

Kimball Gainor (35:29.213)
She’s a pit bull. She’s a rescue baby. Shout out, Beery and Cares. Yeah, she’s my screen saver. I’m staring at her face right now. She’s a good girl.

Shawn Grindle (35:30.608)
Head bulb cutie. Cutie. Yep.

Shawn Grindle (35:39.954)
Yeah, mine’s just starting to whine at me near the end of this podcast. So I think that’s gonna be my cue to go take her out after this. It’s about that afternoon time. She knows it’s time for the park. But it’s about that time. It’s time for all that. Anyway, yeah, I think that’s all I’ve got. Thank you for doing this. Thank you for being here. We’ll obviously link to all of your contacts, everything in socials and everything so people can see it. And next time I’m in Seattle,

Kimball Gainor (35:46.685)
is out.

Kimball Gainor (35:50.727)
It’s about that time, snack time.

Shawn Grindle (36:09.234)
I’m gonna have to swing by. I don’t know when that will be. I was almost gonna be there for, if only, so spoiler, I’m like a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and they played, they played the, I know, they played, Andy, the Seahawks on New Year’s Eve and I wanted to go to that game, but it’s New Year’s Eve. It’s like the biggest event night of the year. I couldn’t do it. So I was a little bummed about it, but I do plan on getting up there, maybe catch like a Sounders game or something at some point. So.

Kimball Gainor (36:11.025)

Kimball Gainor (36:19.503)
Oh boy.

Kimball Gainor (36:29.149)
Right. Right.

Kimball Gainor (36:37.469)
Oh yes, yeah, absolutely.

Shawn Grindle (36:38.706)
It’s on our agenda. Yeah.

Kimball Gainor (36:40.029)
Please do. I’ll say that too. I mean, you had asked about, you know, like discounts and things. Obviously we operate so differently that anytime we’re hosting a private event, we’re already, we’re for profit, both spaces, and we’re already turning away a massive amount of business. So it means while we don’t have a lot of flexibility with budgets, I think just a big goal of mine is just to be opening these spaces. So many people don’t know about the Skyline level or the Bar at Chihuly. And it’s just a goal of mine to open these spaces up.

Shawn Grindle (37:06.346)

Kimball Gainor (37:09.983)
to our community as much as possible. So please reach out and let me know when you’re around and I would love to show you around and or set you up with some tips.

Shawn Grindle (37:17.106)
Yeah, yeah, I definitely will. For sure, next time I’m up there, I’m gonna do it. I travel quite a bit, so I usually get around all those places. Anyway, Kimball, thank you so much. We’ll link to all your stuff. Thank you for doing this. I appreciate you for being here, and hopefully next time I see you, we’ll be in Seattle. Cool. All right, have a good one.

Kimball Gainor (37:34.553)
Yes, amen. Thank you, Shawn

Listen to the Podcast About Space Needle & Chihuly Garden and Glass

This interview was made possible by Felix & Fingers Dueling Pianos

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