I am at a social gathering; or I run into someone I haven't seen for a long time and I inevitably hear something like this;
"I haven't been to the Market in years."
"I never go to the Market anymore, it's too crowded"
"The Market is nothing but a tourist trap, It's messy."
"Getting to the Market is a pain, then there is no parking."
Inevitably I respond, but the whole time I realize that there is an element of truth each of these. So what is a Market merchant to do? What is the Pike Place Market to do? What would make people to shop the Market? How does the Market compete in the 21st century?
We try by focusing our efforts on locals. We don't ignore the tourists, but we don't down sell to them, we challenge them a bit, all while providing a personal shopping experience that they are unlikely to get very many places. Getting tourists to the Market is not a problem, it is in fact, part of the problem as their sheer numbers exert an inexorable influence on merchants to cater them. That is a path that frightens me.
Instead we should be wooing locals by focusing on quality, service and the human touch, something increasingly rare in the retail world. We should look at adapting to what customers needs are (can you say later hours, at least one day a week). And all of us, merchants, farmers, craftspeople and the governing body, the PDA, need to realize that, like any business, we have greater competition than ever. Just being in the Pike Market and opening your doors is not enough these days.
Do I have all the answers? Of course not. In fact there might not even be answers to some of the forces affecting the retail world these days. But I do feel that, in order for this amazing and beautiful place to survive, we must be willing to adapt, and talk about it.
Why a blog? Why now? Well, that’s a good question. I like to write, I have many opinions about this industry (no surprise to some of you) I have been involved in for nearly forty years and I don't think the world of wine is very well covered in the local (Seattle) media. So, why not me?
It's my hope that I won't be the only one posting here, and I hope my (our) posts will be guided by your questions, concerns and curiosities about anything having to do with wine. But in the meantime I have something that has been on my mind.
It's a big world after all
If one were to read only our local food and wine media one might think that the only wines in the world were made in Washington. This puzzles me because how can you love the world of wine and all its fascinating facets and write only about Washington wine? Now let me say right here that this is not a slam on the Washington wine industry. I was brought up with them, have promoted them, talk to people from all over the country and world about them and have done it for 36 years at Pike and Western. I think that the growth of the Washington wine industry has been a big factor in Seattle becoming a significant restaurant/food city. But there is more to wine that that which is grown in Washington, and a greater understanding of our local wines can be gained by learning about the rest of the world’s wines. The problem is you won’t read about it in the local press. It’s all Washington, all the time (Ok, most of the time).
Great winemakers from around the world are in Seattle all the time and, unless your read our emails or Dan and Jay’s at McCarthy and Schiering you would never know it. I am not saying don t write about local wines, just be more, you know, inclusive. I know from experience that people are curious about what is out there and will read about a small producer from southern France who, I guarantee has great stories to tell. And what writer doesn’t love a great story?
Welcome to our new “What We’re Thinking Page” a replacement for our “What We’re Drinking” page. The goal of this page is a broad one; we can post tasting notes, talk about trends in the wine industry, tell stories AND answer your questions. In other words, it is our goal that this page will be an extension of a visit to the shop. We would love to hear your feedback, what interests you, any questions and any ideas you might have regarding what we can do with this page.
Given that we are about to enter the teeth of our holiday season we likely won’t really get going until after the first of the year but please feel free to make comments or ask questions right now and we will respond.