Summer Cacophony

Soooo – I was sitting under my umbrella. Set up outside. Across the street from Victor Steinbrueck Park on Saturday and recalled a ditty I wrote several years ago. “I’ve been here before.” I said to myself. The drums had started beating, the juggler across the street was tossing a bowling ball, power saw and … well, i don’t know what the third thing was, perhaps a sword. Visitors were stopping at my table to ask if I could help them find their way…well…anywhere. A woman gasped in surprise as I explained that “We have quite a few coffee choices here. Where are you from?”  Sirens, saxophones, a children’s choir, runners with flapping capes and numbers on their chests so they must have known their purpose. In the midst of it all – a bride and her groom. “What is going on here today?” a visitor asked me.  “The sun’s out.” I said. “We’re warm.”


Cacophony – Redux

Head down, nose to the grind stone, make and sell as much as you can, while you can. Ships in, sun shining, days warm, crowds crushing, children screeching, dogs in strollers, babies on leashes, thieves running, ocarinas whistling, duck tours quacking, fire engines wailing, buskers singing; playing saws; unidentified instruments; mumbled lyrics. Where’s the 1st Starbucks? How far is it to the Space Needle? How do I get to the aquarium? SECURITY! How much is this? What is this? How do you make this? Can you take our picture? Where do they throw the fish? The weather is so much nicer here than what we expected. Is that Mount St. Helen’s? Mount Rainier? Is that the ocean? Where is there an ATM; Bank; Drug Store; Real Store; Mall? Do you take cards? American Express? Where’s the guy that was here last week? Will you be here tomorrow; next week; next month? Is this market here every day? What do you do when it rains? You got a cigarette? Light? Do you have to set up and tear down every day? Where’s there a good place to eat? clam chowder; seafood? Where’s Cutter’s; Ivars; The Crabpot? Wanna buy some batteries cheap? Police horse clip clops; drops a load or a river.  Bride’s white satin swishes. Exuberance. Joy. Ice cold water 50 cents! Please Lord. I don’t wish him ill but perhaps the screaming water man could, well….  Child drops a cookie, no three second rule here. Mirror Man, Bronze Woman. Gold Man. Parrot. Tips for photos please. Hula hoops, ukes and digeridoos. Tips for listening please. They’re all handmade. My name is … I make these all myself. Real Change! They’re made out of deer antler. What’s with the pig? We make your name for you right here right now. My friend makes these. Do you make a living doing this? Where is the closest bathroom? Where’s Pike Place Market? You are here.

Kat Allen
Symbols in Art
Handcrafted Display Art Tiles of Inspiration and Awareness

The happiest hour

What’s better after a long day at work than a light bite and a delicious drink with friends? Fortunately Pike Place Market offers plenty of options for hungry and thirsty crafters to unwind after a long day at our booths.

I love to do happy hour at the Market with my crafts line co-workers and it’s a great central location to get together with non-Market friends too.

Here are a few of my personal favorite happy hour spots in the Market:

1. Maximilien
On a bright, hot summer day it’s hard to beat the big deck at this little slice of France that has been transported to the southwest corner of the Market. Tucked down an unimpressive looking corridor just past where they throw the fish, Maximilien feels a million miles from the hustle and bustle of the Market.

The deck is adorned with large umbrellas and boasts a stunning view of Elliot Bay. And when a French-accented waiter takes your order it’s impossible to resist the frites and fromages, washed down with their special French martini. The happy hour menu offers an impressive selection of French dishes, including escargots, and Absinthe is on the drinks list. Magnifique!

2. Il Bistro
If Maximilien is my go-to happy hour on bright days, Il Bistro is a top choice in the grayer months. The dark and cozy bar is a welcoming haven. Go down the narrow staircase opposite where they throw the fish at 5pm and you’ll generally find a small crowd waiting for the doors to open. If I’m lucky I’ll snag the table with the cushioned bench, but the friendly staff are always happy to push a couple of tables together to accommodate a larger group.

In the best tradition of happy hour, the menu offers superb value (the restaurant is one of the best in town). Start with a crostini, follow with the goat cheese ravioli, and share a couple of the delicate pizzas with your table. Drink a delicious glass of Primitivo and that’s an excellent and inexpensive dinner. It almost makes me want fall to come sooner.

3. Chan
A new kid on the happy hour roster is Chan, which offers Korean food with a Western bent. Tucked away in the courtyard of the Inn at the Market, it’s easy to miss this charming restaurant. But once welcomed by the smiling staff you’re sure to return.

Nibble on the kimchi sampler and and follow up with the sliders, which elicit cries of “more please!” Be sure to try the distinctly Korean cocktails, such as the Kor Royale or the Sojito – delicious.

Other favorite places for happy hour in the Market include Cafe Campagne (the small lamb sliders are to die for), the Virginia Inn (their smoked wild salmon is melt-in-the-mouth sublime) and the Zig Zag Cafe (famous for its superb cocktails).

Happy hour plans always make the work day better. If you have some favorite happy hour spots at the Market please comment and tell us about them. Until 5pm then, cheers!

Emma Roscoe, Red Delicious Bags

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

Summer Where The Sidewalk Ends

And there I sit under a sunflower light

I sell our art at Pike Place Market all year long. For six months of the year I set my business up outside of the north arcade building. So far at the end that I usually have one foot on the sidewalk and the other on the red cobblestones of Pike Place.  I have a yellow sunflower umbrella. I sit. Watch. Interact with visitors. This year’s winning question – “where is the wall of gum?”. The Gum Wall?  You are at the north end of the market, I say.  Continue on through the market until you see Rachel the Pig. Look for the sign that says “Market Theater” and walk down the stairs. It’s gross. You’ll love it. Giggles from the visitors.

I also interact with the greater market family. People who walk back and forth through the market each day to pass the time. The homeless, the semi-homeless, the out of work, the seniors, the people who love being a part of the life and breath of the market or simply have nothing else better to do.  The market gives them a sense of community.

Isaac comes down on the bus from Everett once a week and sometimes brings me almonds.  He assures me that he also brings me good luck for sales.  An aged Hindu man passes by as he laps the market and attempts to teach me Hindi.  So far Namaste, How are you, I’m fine – are as far as we’ve gotten in 5 years.  One of the motorcycle regulars works at Etta’s and spends Tuesdays volunteering at the Food Bank in the market.  Nice girl.  Always takes the time to chat.  My business is set up right in front of the only two motorcycle parking spaces in the market so I’ve learned some “Harley” etiquette over the years.  Most of the riders now give me a heads up before starting their engines.

And then there is Momma Sue. 10 years ago Sue picked up the wooden chair I had forgotten as I packed up for the day.  Homeless at the time, she lugged that chair around with her for days until she caught up with me to give it back.  She has never asked me for anything. We have shared time and conversation with each other over the years.  She moved into an apartment of her own and I asked her what she really wanted to help make it feel like home. A toaster. I got her a red one to match the color she always wears.

There’s the woman who sits on the bench and asks everyone “Can I borrow two dollars for a drink?”. Security – please make her stop. I must say that her dollar amount is spot on but does she really plan on paying it back?

The busker who in the summer rarely wears a shirt or shoes. Long flowing hair to his waist, waves as he breezes by with a guitar over his shoulder.

And then the people in the park across the way. Never ending entertainment for me.

Don’t mess with a native woman.

And when I tire of people watching I kidnap poetry
and make it my own. My apologies to Shel Silverstein. It just fit.

Summer Where the Sidewalk Ends
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins.
And there the sun is warm and bright
And there I dream of what only children might
And there I sit under a sunflower light
To cool in the misty wind.

Let us leave the place where streets are black
And the huddled mass of ordinary bends.
Past the park where the native flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is carefree and slow
And watch where the red cobblestones go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

We shall walk with a walk that is carefree and slow
And watch where the red cobblestones go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Poem adapted from Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends”

Post by Kat Allen – Symbols in Art
Handcrafted art tiles reflecting World Religion and Culture

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

Happy birthday to Pike Place Producers

You’ve laughed, cried, been surprised and stimulated, amazed, interested and even provoked. Above all we hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog over the last year.

As we approach the anniversary of our launch we can take a look back with pleasure and pride at the amazing and eclectic posts that have provided a unique insight into the life and times of the crafts community at Pike Place Market.

The blog was born out of some friendly meetings at the studio I share with Lynn Rosskamp of PingiHats where, fuelled by good snacks and beverages, our creative brains turned to how we can make more people aware of who we are and what we do.

We knew there was a wealth of great stories to tell about our businesses and lives as artists and crafts people, and about our place in one of Seattle’s oldest institutions and major tourist attractions.

And admittedly there was a measure of frustration driving us. Daily we encounter at our booths so many people who are completely unaware that the Market has a vibrant crafts community, that we all make what we sell, that we are professionals.

Over the course of those meetings we agreed it made sense to collaborate to get the word out, and to utilize the interest we shared in online and social media to make that happen. We set up a Facebook page, a Twitter feed and this blog, and Kat Allen of Symbols in Art wrote the first post of June 13, 2011.

Since then we’ve included artist profiles, pieces about our inspiration and work processes, and lots of information about how crafts community at the Market works. We’ve addressed etiquette and some pet peeves. There have been lots of photographs, some super cartoons, even a song playlist. I encourage you to browse the archives to check out all the posts.

In the last year our blog has received over 10,000 views. Our busiest day was September 14, 2011 when my post about the thorny issue of pricing was widely shared. Also very popular was Kat’s post about Market lunch spots on March 8 this year, and the Where Are You From post by Laura Killoran of Croshay Design. And the recent tearjerker about How the Market Brings People Together by Kristeena and Ron Sabando of Sabando Design was widely read and shared.

We do a new post weekly and there is much, much more to say, so stick around, follow us on Twitter, like our Facebook page. Thanks!

Emma Roscoe, Red Delicious Bags

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  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

Dog Friendly Pike Place Market

At Pike Place Market all dogs are welcome to bring their well mannered owners to come and shop.

We are all busy with work, friends and family so it is nice to be able to spend some time with our four-legged friends. With a limited number of hours in the day and so many tasks at hand with shopping for groceries and that special gift needed, our best friends tend to spend more time alone at home than with us. So it is nice to be able to have a place where you can do it all with your best friend at your side.

Along with shopping for everything you need the Market has some special things just for your four-legged companions.

Adventure Days Dog Treats, by Melody Price,  is your source for locally made, all natural, hand crafted dog treats and rope toys. They are most delicious dog treats made with human grade ingredients so you know you are giving your dog the best!

As a vendor on the craft line it is always nice to see the happy dog faces as they stroll along the North Arcade So the next time you need to get a special hand crafted gift for yourself or a friend or want to pick up some fresh produce don’t forget to bring along your very best friend.

Check out some of our four-legged market friends:

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by Kristeena and Ron Sabando, Sabando Design

Numbers, names and a curious map

What do the US Senate, most American police departments and the Pike Place Market crafts line have in common? They employ a roll call at the start of business and as a basis for their activities.

The crafters’ roll call happens every day the Market is open and its function is much more than recording who is present. It’s how we get our selling space for the day and is why the crafts vendors most likely are not in the same place you last saw them, and why we can’t tell you where we’ll be next time you’re at the Market – we don’t know ourselves until that very morning!

If you’ve been to the Market early-ish and seen a crowd of people at the north end of the North Arcade, milling about expectantly and calling out seemingly random numbers in answer to names, then you’ve seen roll call.

On that north-most wall there’s a large whiteboard with a somewhat inaccurate map of all the Market daystall spaces – how they managed to draw it with century-old building features, such as columns, in completely the wrong locations is an ongoing subject of speculation!

The board

Each space is numbered and there are Second and Third Sections, north of Rachel the Pig and opposite the Chukar Cherries stand respectively, though no First Section is marked. There is the Desimone Bridge, the Dogleg and Slabs. Mario’s is drawn on the map by hand as it’s officially temporary. Also on the map are the Wet Side, Dry Side, Outside Slabs and Circle, and often added by hand in the summer is the Street.

So we assemble each morning, right now at 9.30am every day but Sunday, which is 10am. From April through the rest of the year it will be 9am daily. A hand bell is rung, an innovation in the last couple of years – often invited VIP guests do the ringing – and the Market Master for the day starts with “Anyone calling under 35?”

That’s a seniority number (for an explanation of seniority, see a previous post here) and the most senior have already reserved their usual spot by writing their number into the relevant space on the board. The rest of us have signed next to our names on a clipboard and must wait to be called to choose our space. As they move down the list the Market Master checks off our names, which ensures they’ll record our attendance and that we’ll be billed rent for that day.

Marking the board

“Allen,” says the Market Master. “Four on the bridge,” says Kat, of Symbols in Art. Her answer will soon change to “Two in the circle” because she likes to set up outside when the weather warms up.

The Market Master continues down the list and the board fills with seniority numbers on the spaces. There’s a list of vendors above the board, so you can see which name goes with which number, and their product.

There are some rules to follow, and a lot of etiquette: don’t set up too close to a vendor with the same type of product as you, don’t ‘squeeze’ someone by taking a space next to them if there’s lots of room that day (near-neighbors share a vacant space between them, and extra space means a bigger, better display and potentially better sales). In choosing spaces we also, of course, consider personalities. Who will be a good neighbor? It helps the day go well if you’re next to friends, or at least friendly vendors.

A short while later the Market Master says “Pass up the third sheet,” meaning  the last of the clipboards on which we sign in, and I know my turn is coming. “Roscoe,” says the Market Master. “Calling,” I say, because that day I’m ‘doubling’.

First, second and third sheet

Many vendors do this to make it easier and more economical to run our businesses. It means running two booths next to each other. In my case I trade off a day with my studio partner Lynn of PingiHats each week. I sell for her, she sells for me, which gives us more precious studio time. But under the Market rules I’m not allowed to pick our spaces until her name is called (my seniority number is 156, she’s 167.).

Sometimes as the Market Master gets to the newest vendors on the list the anxiety level rises noticeably and you’ll hear “Will I get in?” Unfortunately there are fewer spaces than crafts vendors. In spring the availability of crafts spaces diminishes as the number of flower vendors in the daystalls flourishes (they get precedence for a large swathe of spots, and each vendor gets double the minimum space we’re allotted).

A high-demand day like Saturday, plus lots of flowers, plus bad weather usually means the indoor crafts spots are oversubscribed, and sometimes a few – sometimes many – crafts vendors end up being shut out. It’s tough having to go home. As the weather improves into summer, and the outside spaces and the street are utilized, even the newest vendors are usually able to get a space.

Second section spaces

Roll call concludes with the Market Master asking if anyone wants to move – and we roll our eyes when that sometimes turns into a domino effect, with one shift leading to another and another. About half an hour after the bell, roll call is officially concluded when the time is written on the board, and we all take off to set up our booths for another day vending at Pike Place Market.

by Emma Roscoe, Red Delicious Bags