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.
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.”
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”