The story of Jacob; a Market ghost story for Halloween

The Market was built into a hillside providing five levels of retail space below Pike Place. The lower levels are known as the Down Under. In these levels, shopkeepers and customers have seen the ghosts of children. Some even name them.

Drawing of Jacob from the Seattle Times 6/26/2007

Until 2010, a store selling beads had occupied the address of #415 1501 Pike Place. It became retail space after a federal post office in the location was closed due to financial embezzlement by workers in 1973. When the most recent owners of the bead store, Ram and Nina, took on the lease, they inherited the beads, counters, register and the ghost of a young boy. They called him Jacob.

Nina was the first to notice strange happenings in the shop. At night she organized all the beads into their proper containers. In the morning they would be jumbled up and moved. One day while she was having a particularly emotional phone call, a strand of beads went flying in front of her from a hook on a wall. She felt as though someone was trying to get her attention and her mood quickly changed. An employee of the Bead Zone, which Ram and Nina call their store, described walking through the shop one morning while trying to decide on a necklace to wear during her shift. To her amazement a necklace hanging on a hook flew off and dropped at her feet. As she picked it up she noticed that the blue of the center stone was the exact blue of the dress she was wearing.

When I brought tours into the Bead Zone, I often asked the group to make a request of Jacob to do “something.” It was rare that anything happened, but on two occasionsthings did. Once, two strands of red beads went flying off the wall as though someone had pulled and thrown them. Another time a group of young Girl Scouts asked him to do something and within minutes of the request, the entire room began to smell of wet hay and horse manure. It was so unmistakable that one of the girls asked, “Where are the horses?”

In a short film made by Arthur Goodwin in 1927, there are about five seconds of footage in which his camera catches numerous young boys lining up on Pike Place to work for the day. They stand with Radio Flyers at their sides ready to help customers haul their goods through the Market. Other children worked long hours in the stables of the Market. Orphaned children found refuge by working for the stable masters. In exchange for their work, they received blankets and hay on which to sleep. Jacob may have been one of those early stable boys remaining close to where he lived and perhaps died.

Number 415 is a difficult place to have a business, not only because inventory keeps being moved around but because of its location and awkward layout. On the north side of the shop is a room that had been sealed since 1973 when the post office moved out. The room is almost as large as the entire shop but with an elevated floor that makes it unsuitable for commercial use. The room was first noticed one morning while the owners of the Bead Zone were parking their car on Western Avenue below. They looked up at the backside of the Market and noticed that there were six large windows on the exterior of their bead shop, which was quite strange. Inside the bead shop there were only three. There appeared to be an additional space north of their shop. Anticipating finding that additional space, they knocked on the north wall only to discover that one area sounded hollow. Upon breaking through the wall they found a large room and the three windows they had seen from Western Avenue. Below the windows were small piles of items. There were piles of beads, piles of pennies, and packets of beads marked with their own handwriting from just a week before opening the sealed space. How all of these things got behind sealed walls remains a mystery.

One Halloween, Jacob’s story was in the newspapers in Seattle. The newspaper article made a clever assumption that the beads resembled marbles and that was why Jacob liked them. Young boys started to visit the shop with marbles in hand. One child left a basket of marbles for Jacob with a note that read, “These are for you. If you like them, let me know.” He placed a small pencil and piece of paper for Jacob’s response.

The Bead Zone has moved to a different space on a lower floor. In August 2010, two customers were inside the new location standing next to a large table. On the table were containers filled with different colored beads. After several minutes of looking through the containers, they asked Ram if there were any red beads. He told them to look again. When they looked back every container had one solitary red bead in the center. At the old Bead Zone address, Number 415, a shop called Merry Tails is now open. The owner has an area devoted for Jacob inside. A small cart and a basket of toys now sit in “Jacob’s Room.”  

Excerpt from Seattle’s Market Ghost Stories by Mercedes Yaeger  

The drawing included in this post is from a Seattle Times article (read the article by clicking on the title)  “Meet Some of the Ghosts of the Pike Place Market”


Smoke and Mirrors

The "public face" of my display.

The image above is what visitors to Pike Place Market see when they come across me in the daystalls – a table with four levels, displaying my products in a (hopefully) organized and attractive fashion. Little does the general public know what lies beneath that bamboo mat and velvet cloth.

When I first started working the farmers’ market circuit, as a sales agent for a local farm, I was fascinated by the tricks of the trade that vendors used in their displays. What looked from the front to be a shelf may have been a wooden crate that would carry product home at the end of the day or an ingenius system of interlocking planks that folded flat to pack away.

The "shelf" unveiled.

When I started selling my soaps in the market in October 2005 (six years ago?!?!), I used a small bookshelf to hold my products. For various reasons I decided it didn’t work well, so I enlisted a clever friend to help me design and build the perfect riser. It needed to fit the daystall tables, show my products well, and be both durable and portable. He settled on sheets of foam insulation for the building material, bound and reinforced with duct tape (seasoned marketeers can build anything out of duct tape and bungie cords). I modified it slightly when I added my line of Skin Smoothies, and it’s taken quite a beating over the years, but it still serves its purpose quite well.

In the back are cutouts where I keep bags and my sales book.
My foam shelf even has a handy carrying strap.

The sight of me carrying this slightly ridiculous contraption between my storage locker and the North Arcade attracts a bit of attention. “Hey, is that your boom box?” “That looks like a keyboard!” “Actually it doubles as a flotation device in case of a water landing.” “It’s not heavy, it’s just bulky.”

So next time you’re browsing a craft booth, whether at a hometown fair or Pike Place Market, take a moment to acknowledge the smoke and mirrors that make our temporary businesses look so permanent.

Becky Boutch
Seattle Rainwater Soap Co.

Hidden Pike Place Market

You’ve seen the flying fish, Rachel the Pig, and the endless bouquets of flowers. But have you ever taken time to look at the hidden gems that are often above or below the line of sight, the details and oddities that make Pike Place Market the unique and colorful place that it is? I want to take you on a photo journey through the hidden Pike Place Market. (Best watched in full-screen mode.)

Scott Alberts: Painter

The Fabric of Life

“Where did you get your amazing fabric?” Although I can’t answer that question (trade secret, you know), I am always delighted by the fact that others love these fabrics as much as I do. When I began crafting my handbags I followed the advice of a sculptor friend of mine. He said: “Let the fabric tell you what it wants to be.”

I began with samples, using only my very favorite high-end woven jacquard fabrics. Yes, the kind used in interior design. Often people call them upholstery fabrics, but oh, they are so much more. Rich in flavor, they are designed to hold up to a lot of use and abuse and their woven patterns are works of art. I was smitten, over the top in love with the look and feel of these beautiful fabrics.

However, if I wanted to spend my time creating with them, I needed to make a business out of my creations. And that is where my journey began. After inheriting my Mom’s sewing machine and armed with this innate passion for fabric, I began handcrafting my bags. I sculpted them into shoulder bags, handbags and zipper pouches.

Inspired by a story in the book by Janet Luhrs, “The Simple Living Guide”, which described a commercial fisherman turned full-time photographer who had success selling his photos of fish at art shows across the country, I headed for Pike Place Market. That was 11 years ago. Since then, my craft has continued to evolve as has my business. I have never stopped listening to the fabric about what it wants to be and it has never let me down.

My customer also tells me what my satchels want to be. They decide how they will use these satchels and love hearing them tell me their many uses for them. Here is one customer who uses her satchel to hold her knitting so that she can knit on the go.

I feel like a kid in kindergarten bringing her art home to Mom, who says: “That is so amazing,” when my customers tell me: “You have an eye.”

Last holiday season as I flew to New York to join my family for the holidays, my heart was warmed thinking of all the people who would be opening one of my Sandra’s Satchels. I feel so grateful that they too are a part of the fabric of my life.

Sandra Kevin, Sandra’s Satchels