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.
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.
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!
At this time of year, the Pike Place Producers are thinking “lucky Santa” and wishing we had our own elves. Just like the famous North Pole workshop, our studios are a hive of activity as we busy ourselves making lovely gifts for under the tree.
But rather than magic and reindeer, it’s plain old elbow grease and people power that’s bringing our gifts to you. So I thought it would be fun to draw back the curtain and give you a peek behind the scenes at Red Delicious Handbags HQ.
A lot has happened before you see my products carefully arranged at my Pike Place Market booth, like this.
Here’s the Wall o’ Fabric! Not just mine, but also that of my studio partner Lynn Rosskamp of Pingihats. This is maybe half of the fabric stashed around our work space.
I make all my own pattern pieces and then have to cut all the fabric before even starting to make a bag. Here are some Long & Lean bags in progress:
It’s impossible to do everything myself (if I want to sleep and read a book occasionally, that is!). And in the Market rules we are allowed one production assistant. This is Lovely Assistant Nikki doing some cutting. She also assists PingiHats production.
And finally, I sew up the pieces to make the bags you know and love! The studio has big windows which let in lots of light, and I can see all the great neighborhood dogs being walked by.
I hope you receive lots of lovely hand-crafted gifts this year, and wish you all very Happy Holidays, with grateful thanks for your interest in, and support of, my business and all the Pike Place Producers.