In a former life…

What do you call a social worker, a software company manager and a journalist? No, it’s not the the opening line of a joke. These are the previous careers of three of the Pike Place Producers.

Our members also include a former personal chef, a publisher and a management consultant. And this being Seattle, of course one of our number has put in time as a barrista in addition to being a graphic designer.

So you see, most of us did something very different in former lives. Walk through the crafts line on any given day and you’ll see ranks of smart, creative people who have chosen to turn away from conventional careers and the corporate world to pursue their passion for art and making things.

Numerous Market artists started by dipping toes in the water, selling for other Market artists – in Market-speak, working as an ‘agent’ – before plunging into being full-time, self-employed crafts entrepreneurs.

We’ve replaced the 9-to-5 grind, suits and pantyhose, employer contributions and paid vacations with 9am roll call, clothes we just like to wear, keeping our own books, the flexibility to take time off when we choose and most importantly creative fulfilment. The watercooler discussion has become a chat with our booth neighbors.

The journalist? That was me. I started my working life as a newspaper reporter and worked my way up the ladder to become editor in charge of a niche publications department with a major publishing company in the UK.

Now I spend my days designing, making and selling handbags, plus all the other behind-the-scenes things required to run my own business. Not everything about it is a picnic, but I’ll take it any day over life in a cubicle slaving over a hot computer.

Me at my Market booth
Me at my Market booth

Reader challenge!

Can you figure out which former career belongs to which Pike Place Producer? Check out the Member Businesses page and take a guess. Leave a comment with your guesses. I can’t guarantee the Producers will confirm whether you’re right, but it will be fun to see what you all think.

Emma Roscoe
Red Delicious Bags

Life in the Market

This is my second year but first summer in the market. I LOVE IT. And this is what I love about it:

  1. Other vendors in the market – even the grumpy ones, because you know where they stand “loud and clear.” They are so full of energy and talents. I feel at home right away.
  2. Customers – not all of them of course, but if I don’t take people or their business for granted, I always find some very sweet people every day. And I cherish that. They make my day!
  3. The waterfront work space.
  4. The independent and solitary nature of the work – yet in a group of very independent and solitary people who I have found that I can always rely on when I need help.
  5. The weather (yes, you read me right), the outdoor air, the whole making of the market.
  6. And I get to make art on site while making “some kind of” living…

Life is good.

Carol Chen Lord
CC Lord Studio

The Language of the Market

Photo by Nancie Gee

I am a Market Rat. Now before you start thinking this is a bohemian experiment in blog posting, I am not a furry four legged rodent. I am someone who has grown up in the Pike Place Market. My family first started working on the line in 1979. They worked endless hours creating  painted wooden puzzles. My father had a band-saw in our garage and I can still recall the smell of wood being cut even today. Each puzzle was hand painted by my mother. Currently, one wall in my parent’s home is covered with those original puzzles on display.

As new craftspeople, we were low on  the list and often set up on the slabs after morning roll call. They went on to open a store with a door in the Atrium and continue to paint today. They have produced the Pike Place Market Calendar for 30 years.

The Market, literally, has supported each member of my immediate family. I now own a business and a shop in the district myself, Market Ghost Tours. I employ eight people and offer walking tours. It has been incredible to be able to continue being in the Market as an adult.

The Pike Place Market is a city within a city, with its own governing boards, residents, constituents, and businesses. It also has a vocabulary of its own – that you only learn once you start to work in the Market. Here are just some examples;

Market Rat, a child in the Market, or a person who grew up in the Market.

Store with a Door, a term for businesses who lease retail space.

The Line, the craft line, the selling stalls that run through the main Arcade of the Market at the north end of Pike Place.

Day Stall, a stall rented daily to a farmer or craftsperson in the Market.

High Stall vs Low Stall, Farmer stalls: High have imported fruits & veg year round, Low are day tables with seasonal and local offerings.

Roll Call, morning roll call, as Websters would define it, for the crafts community.

The Cave, an area, below the main Arcade, where Market buskers perform.

The Lockers, storage lockers for the crafts community.

The Slabs, concrete selling stalls on the North End of the Arcade.

The Dog Leg, an area of day stalls in the Market.

Market Master, The person in charge of roll call and who oversees the leasing of the day stalls.

Fish Monger, man or woman who works at a fish market.

The Bridge, short for the Joe Desimone Bridge, which is in the North Arcade and at one time was a bridge linking Pike Place with a building on Western. Today it is used as daystall area.

The Clock, the iconic clock at the entrance of the Market and part of the Public Market Center neon sign. People often meet under the clock or by the pig.

The Pig, named Rachel, a brass life sized piggy bank that stands under the clock and by the Pike Place Fish Market. She raises money for human services in the Market.

*Not me in the picture, but that photo certainly reminds me of my childhood in the Market. There are more words and phrases in the Market vocabulary. Come down and spend some time learning the language, our favorite is the language of commerce.

Now, how about some cheese ? ~ Mercedes Yaeger, Market Ghost Tour