It's been a good year for Pike Place Market artisans in Seattle. Some say the best
Supply chain disruptions might be making it hard to shop for things like flat screen TVs. But at the Pike Place Market, some local artisans are benefiting.
Locally sourced materials used to be a selling point, for some of the artisans at the Pike Place Market.
This year, it’s an economic advantage.
Kristeena Sabando and her husband Ron make jewelry out local materials.
She’s selling a pendant on a chain of recycled silver from New Mexico. It holds a chunk of concrete rubble from a famous Seattle landmark demolished in 2019.
"You can’t get any more local than a piece of the Alaskan Way Viaduct,” she says. “We cut and polished it, and it has these beautiful agates and jasper in it."
The Sabandos also make belt buckles from thin slices of the rare two inch by two inch rebar that ran inside that concrete.
In another stall, Nancy Wilson sells Santa Claus ornaments made from oyster shells. When she runs out, she takes a drive to the ocean to visit an oyster processor in Hoquiam.
“They have mountains of shells, and they let me go through their mountains," she said, to find the shells that look most like Santa’s beard.
She keeps selling out of them. She and her daughter have had trouble keeping up with demand.
Wilson also uses clay in her creations, of which there have been shortages. "When I see it, I buy it," she says.
In another stall, Mutsuko Mitsui is a potter who makes small pendants and clay sculptures (her business is Flyingcat Creations). She uses a lot of animal motifs and references to the human body.
“This year has been the busiest year I've had. The best year,” she says.
“Why?” I ask.
“I’m trying to understand why. There’s a good amount of traffic here. There’s people traveling, and they’re willing to buy handmade items.”
All up and down the craft section of the Pike Place Market, crafters told me: as long as they have had materials on hand to work with, they've done well.
But those who’ve had to restock have run into shortages and price increases.
Emmanuelle Shih sells “grunge beanies” from her stall. While she had enough leftover fabric from last year to scrape by, her new fabric didn’t arrive until December 20! That didn't leave her much time for production.
“You know, this season is almost over for shopping, so, now I’m gonna have a whole bunch of inventory for next year,” she says.
Which could be a good thing. Because if all the tourists in the market now are any indication, next year should be a good one for these crafters.