Shopping The Pike Place Market
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.