Harvey – Never Lets Us Down

Old Reliable – Harvey the Market Truck welcomes shoppers to Farm Days on the Cobblestones

Walking down Western Ave. I looked down into the open air parking lot and saw two young girls taking turns climbing up onto the market truck and snapping pictures of each other.  The bunches of grapes and flowers brightly called out to them. A reminder to me that the summer market season is truly here and of the memory of how this workhorse of a vehicle got it’s name.

How many cans of spray paint does it take ?

Last year, local artists, Jeff Jacobson and Joey Nix spray painted the old white CSA truck into a mobile mural showing off Pike Place Market farm products.  Its new look deserved a new name befitting it’s reliable and enduring service to the market community.

Crafters, buskers, farmers, submitted suggestions.  “Harvey” was chosen.  Why – You might ask?  Now Harvey was a man. A man that most of us who work at the market knew. Harvey had been a “cart pusher” for over 20 years. Extremely reliable. A necessary cog in the wheel. He would never let you down.  He delivered.  He delivered our carts to us so that we could run our businesses.  He never wanted to let us down.

This old CSA truck. With new life painted on to it, never lets the market down.  A mobile storage unit for tents, tables and everything market, you can see it at the Pike Place Market Express at City Hall from 10-2 on Tuesdays  and on Thursdays at South Lake Union from 10-2:30.  Both locations are within walking distance from Pike Place Market.  Have a long lunch hour and you just need to take a walk?  Come down and visit us at the market. More fun and satisfying than a trip to the mall or a stop at the grocery store.  You may see “Harvey” – the truck, setting out on the cobblestones at the market.  Some say that the “real” Harvey is still with us.  I sometimes feel as though I’ve caught a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye when I’m down in the locker spaces.

I have no picture to share of Harvey. He was elusive that way. But what I do have is a picture of the love and care that his community shared with him..

I want to share this remembrance of Harvey McGarrah with you that I wrote after his passing :

Harvey, Harvey. He’s my man. With Harvey, Harvey, Yes I Can

A little ditty that I would greet Harvey with as he stood in front of my table at the end of each market day, waiting for payment for the work he did pushing my cart up from my locker in the morning and back down at night.  I didn’t have to worry. Pack up. Go home. Harvey took it from there.

Harvey. Old and ageless.  Same soft brown pullover with little flecks of meals past and present.  Tooth challenged, he would often have a dribble that I would see splash onto the silk scarves used on my display.  I would just bundle them up and take them home to wash.

He had a conversation constantly going on in his head.  He would blurt out whatever part of the conversation he was in at the time he saw you and it was up to you to jump on board and go with it.  “Hey, you know…

this guy in Auburn…”
this guy used to own a restaurant…”
now this guy had money.  I mean real big money…”

Most days he just wanted conversation, contact, friendship.  Other days may have started in a more challenging way for him and by the time I arrived at the market he was spitting mad.

“Say now..I’m telling you..That’s what I mean.  You can’t tell them a f***ing thing.  Those pot heads in that place can’t make a f***ing hot chocolate. Not even a goddamn chocolate !”  He would bend at the waist, put his two hands on the handle of the cart and push.

Start of the market day.  Harvey is swearing up a storm. “goddamn guy is spraying water on the street and got my shoes wet.  I had to take off my socks.”

Despite the gruff exterior his voice would soften, his eyes brighten as he chatted with small children in strollers and to dogs.  Always a kind word.

For months I thought that he didn’t know my name and then one day he shows up and says “Well Kathi. How’re ya doin’?”  He looked pleased with himself and I felt as though I had been accepted into the club.

A few years ago Harvey suffered a terrible beating.  He had left some carts too long to push down to the lockers.  It was late and a rowdy crowd was out and about.  He is said to have mouthed off to one of them that had been giving him a hard time and ended up being beaten with a pipe.  The community was stunned.  No Harvey.  How’s he doing?  Will he be alright?  He did come back.  Probably way too soon.  Blackened eyes and bruised face.  Limping more than usual.  Bound and determined, he knew that he had a job to do.  He came back and got those carts taken care of.

His last illness, admitted to the hospital, was different.  He seemed to know that he wouldn’t be able to come back.  The nurses said that he was as gentle as a baby.  Never put up a fight.  He was quiet.  Quiet? Go figure.  I guess he had finished all of his conversations.

So – market friends gathered round him acting as surrogates for the entire community.  He passed peacefully on.

A Market Maintenance fellow overheard me telling a busker about Harvey’s death.  I’ve seen this tall, thin man for years now.  I don’t know his name.  But the conversation heard in passing stopped him in his tracks.  “Harvey? Harvey is dead?”  His eyes filled with tears.  He said that he had been visiting him in the hospital once a week since he was admitted.  I didn’t know.

People thought that the market would stop running without Harvey pushing the 40 some carts that he was responsible for.  But it didn’t.  Others have stepped into the void.  The market does go on.  A lesson, perhaps, in that anyone can be replaced.  But it’s the character and personality that can never be.

Cheers Harv.

Post by Kat Allen – Symbols in Art
Art tile reflecting World Religions and Cultures

For more information on the life of Harvey McGarrah –
Seattle Times Article – Market Community Loses a Beloved Figure

A guy’s view on shopping at the Market

As a market vendor I have 7 years in experience observing the way men shop in the market. Being a guy my own approach to buying parallels that of many other men.  In my own business we cultivate repeat business. If a gift works well for a guy, he will likely return to the store for further purchases. My wife and I make one of a kind pieces, so the retention of repeat customers is high.

Men generally shop with the swiftness of assassins. Of course, you will find indecisive specimen among us, but most of the time shopping keeps us from other activities, so it must happen quickly. We generally know what we are specifically looking for,  so it is mostly seek and buy. Shopping as a recreation is not really a guy thing.  Sometimes men are uncomfortable shopping in department stores or boutiques. Those types of stores are not necessarily environs where we feel at ease. The market is a uniquely laid back place where you can find a wide range of things in one place. It also allows people to meet the craftsperson or artist and make informed buys.

Growing up with an older sister, I have spent countless hours being dragged along while my mother and sister shopped endlessly from store to store. The market provides many stalls and fixed businesses that appeal to the average guy. We have several vendors that produce excellent woodwork. Their work ranges from hand wrought stools, cutting boards, boxes, long boards to cribbage boards. My friend Joseph of Swanfield Horn & Stone Craft makes obsidian knives with hand carved handles. If you’re in the market for more modern blades we also have Seattle Cutlery in the market.  They sell specialty blades from kitchen to tactical knives.

Joseph of Swanfield Horn & Stone Craft
obsidian knives with hand carved handles

Guys will always gravitate towards food offerings in the Pike Place Market.  For years Don & Joe’s Meats have been my preferred butchers. They also have great frozen bones for your dogs, just ask. Tourists are always fascinated by the goings on at Pike Place Fish. We also have three more fishmongers in the market. As a former commercial fisherman, I prefer my fish not going airborne. Beecher’s Cheese is a great place to eat, but it is also fun to watch their cheese production in action. There are also several wine shops in the market. The deli Pear has a great selection of domestic craft beers and imports. They also carry wine and great foods to accompany those beverages. Countless specialty foods can be found throughout the market.

For the shopping weary guy the market provides many choices in bars and restaurants for a beer or cocktail.  On warm days you can even find an outside spot to rest and have a drink.  Several pubs and restaurants provide al fresco seating for patrons. I have directed many husbands to various watering holes in the market, while their wives continue their shopping.

For many men traveling on business, the market provides a great place to purchase anything from a tourist t-shirt to fine art. We are walking distance from many downtown hotels. We are often the last place for businessmen to shop before heading for the airport. Our location and diversity make it very guy friendly. They are in and out like trained assassins.

Pear Delicatessen
Local and Import Beer

 Ron Sabando, Sabando Design

Busking with Howlin’ Hobbit

Howlin’ Hobbit on the Desimone Bridge

Seattle is well known for its contributions to the American music scene, from Jimi Hendrix to garage rock to Sir Mix-A-Lot to grunge, and Pike Place Market is also humming with the sounds of the Northwest via our thriving community of buskers.  What, you may ask, is a busker?  Busking is the art of street performance, often music but also magic shows, mime, performance art, spoken word, juggling and dance.  Most of the Market’s buskers also perform in local clubs, tour regionally with bands and some have even gone on to popular stardom, such as Brandi Carlisle who got her start performing at the Market before she was old enough to play in bars and clubs.  Artis the Spoonman has been a Market fixture for decades and rose to worldwide fame through the Soundgarden song “Spoonman.”

One can’t just pick up a guitar, put out an upturned hat for tips and start strumming and singing on any corner at the Market.  Buskers must apply for and purchase a yearly busking license from the Pike Place Market PDA.  Over a dozen spaces that are zoned for busking are marked with a big red musical note painted on the concrete along with a number inside the note that indicates how many performers in a group are permitted in that space.  Amplified music and percussion along with certain types of instruments or performances are not allowed for reasons of noise and public safety.  No fire spinning or chainsaw juggling or adult language please!  Buskers are given one hour each for their show and line up early in the day to stake their claim for a specific time slot in the space of their choice.  Their pay is completely reliant on tips from the public and, for some, CD and merchandise sales.

One of the most illustrious buskers currently performing at the Market is a diminutive fellow with a jaunty mustache, a collection of handsome fezzes and a fabulous facility with the ukulele who goes by the intriguing sobriquet of Howlin’ Hobbit.  On a break between sets at his favorite busking spot on the front of the Desimone Bridge, Hobbit sat down with me to answer a few nosy questions about his life as a Market musician.

Now in his 28th (!) season performing at the Market, Hobbit started out at ol’ Pikey with a magic act that has evolved over time into playing the blues and, currently, he plays several ukeleles and the harmonica and sings, mostly jazz and popular standards from yesteryear.  Hobbit has a great affinity for the Weimar Berlin period between the two world wars and his style, both in fashion and song, reflects that.  He’s got a pleasantly raspy voice that sounds like it would be right at home in a smoky basement jazz club somewhere in New Orleans and is a versatile instrumentalist who counts not only the ukelele, harmonica and guitar in his arsenal but also plays piano, pocket sax, flute, bass and percussion.  When not busking solo at Pike Place, Hobbit performs with his band Snake Suspenderz at local clubs, festivals and other farmers markets around the Seattle area. They’ve performed at the Pike Place Buskers Festival, at the CanCan club in the Market, the famous Moisture Festival and even at Benaroya Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony.  Hobbit has also graced a number of burlesque stages in the area, another art form Seattle is known for.

I asked Hobbit what he’d consider his most memorable busking moments.  He replied that seeing Billy Gibbons, guitar god of ZZ Top, give him a nod of approval from the crowd during a blues set at the Market was a real high point. He’s also spotted Gregory Hines grooving to his music while leaning against a pillar under the Market clock. Hobbit briefly considered calling out, “hey, this act could use a hoofer!” but thought the better of it, preferring to give the legendary dancer and actor his privacy.  When asked if he had any words of wisdom about the world of busking he’d like to share in this post, he replied, without missing a beat, “Busking is not for wimps!  And tipping for photos and videos is de rigueur!”  Having only experienced the world of busking from the sidelines of the crafts tables, I would definitely have to concur.

If you’d like to hear some of Howlin’ Hobbit and his band Snake Suspenderz’s music, visit his website at www.howlinhobbit.com  He’s got videos online and CDs for purchase.  He’s also always available for gigs!

by Lynn Rosskamp


How the Market Brings People Together

Alyssa and her mom Karla

Every day we get the opportunity to set up and sell in the Pike Place Market. The market is such a unique place, where we get access to so many people coming and going. Some of our customers live in Seattle and others are just passing through.  People come to Seattle for  business, family, medical treatment and some just on a whim. One thing most have in common is that they have to come to the worlds famous Pike Place Market.

We have sold jewelry for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and we have met some amazing people over the years.  But I never thought that making and selling our jewelry could have overwhelming impact on anyone’s life but I was wrong.

What is in a ring? A pretty gem stone some shiny silver put together in a way we think is unique.  But one day a beautiful lady walked up to our table and picked up a ring and tried it on. We had a pleasant conversation and she walked off with her daughter.  A little while later her husband came back and bought the ring for his wife telling us that she never buys any jewelry for herself and fell in love with the ring. He had thanked us for being nice to his wife because she was in town for cancer treatment . She looked frail but had such a light about her as she went about browsing.

The next day we got an email from her husband thanking us again for the beautiful ring and our interaction with his wife and family. We were touched by the email and thankful that we could make someone happy.  A few months passed and we received another email early in the AM from her daughter, letting us know that her mother had passed away. Before she died she gave the ring to her daughter to wear as a memento.  She thanked us again for the ring and our conversation.  Every time I think about this family I cry and think about the profound impact a ring and a simple kind conversation can have on people.

We are fortunate to meet so many people with happy and sad stories. They all have an impact on our life as we have an impact on there’s.

We think about that day all the time and I had asked Alyssa if I could tell you this story. She told me that today is the one year anniversary of her mom Karla’s funeral and she would like me to share our story with you. This is a beautiful family and we are fortunate to call them friends now!

By Kristeena and Ron Sabando: Sabando Design

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

Where are you from?

If you are shopping at my booth at the Pike Place Market and I ask, “Where are you from?” I am not just making small talk, I would really love to know!

I am not asking because I can hear that you have an accent, or speak very little English at all, I ask the same question of everyone who buys a handmade hat from me! The Market gets over six million visitors a year from all over the world, and I love to know where my creations travel after they pass from my hands to yours.

I grew up in the Puget Sound area, graduating high school on the Kitsap Peninsula. When I am setting up my booth in the morning on the Joe Desimone Bridge, I can look out the windows and see the ferry boats heading from Elliot Bay to Bainbridge Island. I had that entire island and mapped out by the time I was 10, I rode every rural route and explored every dirt road on my black Schwinn 3-speed bike. My mom would say “Go outside and play!” which meant hours of bushwhacking trails through bracken fern and nettles to find the perfect spot to build a fort, or turning over barnicle covered rocks at the beach and trying to capture the tiny crabs as they scrambled to escape from the sun. The whitecapped water was always too cold to swim for very long, though.

My childhood memories are infused with the natural beauty of this place, the evergreen forests, the cold rocky beaches and the bluest skies you’ve ever seen (it’s really true!). I’ve grown up and moved on and I live in the city now, I am raising my own child among the bricks and terra cotta of Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square. The lasting influence of my childhood world is still reflected in my work, though, and can be seen in my use of color and texture and in the natural, sustainable materials I source locally to create crocheted accessories with a distinctive Northwest design sensibility.

When I ask, “Where are you from?” and I nod approvingly at the thought of one of my wool berets being worn on a journey up the inside passage to Alaska, or heading out to the Boston College campus in the fall, I am hoping my customers feel they are taking something special with them when they leave, something different than the mass produced hats you can find at any department store – after all, every city in the country has a mall! At Pike Place Market can you find something truly unique, handmade with care. At the Market you can take home a designer original that you bought directly from the designer herself!

Croshay hats at Pike Place Market

My hats have gone home with visitors from Chicago, New York, DC, LA and San Francisco. They have travelled to London, Moscow, Tokyo, Melbourne and Rio! What I love to hear most, though, is that a hat is going home with a local, someone from Seattle or a smaller surrounding city, maybe Bremerton, Bellevue, Tacoma or Olympia.

Locals might not think of Pike Place Market first as a destination for art, handmade gifts or boutique fashion from local designers, they might only think of the Market as “the place where they throw the fish”. That is, until they find themselves here while showing visitors from out of town all the usual tourist spots. They look around the Joe Desimone Bridge in the North Arcade with its huge windows overlooking the Puget Sound, showcasing the work of hundreds of local artists and they realize, “Wow, I forgot how cool the Market is – we should come down more often!”

Laura Killoran, www.croshaydesign.com

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