Supply chain disruptions can make it difficult to buy items like flat-screen TVs. But at Pike Place Market, some local artisans are taking advantage.
Locally sourced materials were a selling point for some artisans at Pike Place Market.
This year, it’s an economic advantage.
Kristeena Sabando and her husband Ron make jewelry with local materials.
She sells a pendant on a recycled silver chain from New Mexico. It contains a piece of concrete rubble from a famous Seattle landmark demolished in 2019.
“You can’t find more local than a piece of the Alaskan Way Viaduct,” she says. “We cut and polished it, and it’s got these beautiful agates and jasper in it.”
The Sabandos also make belt buckles from thin slices of the rare two-by-two-inch rebar that ran inside that concrete.
At another stall, Nancy Wilson sells Santa Claus ornaments made from oyster shells. When she runs out, she drives to the ocean to visit an oyster processor in Hoquiam.
“They have mountains of seashells, and they let me walk through their mountains,” she said, to find the seashells that most closely resemble Santa’s beard.
She continues to sell them. She and her daughter are struggling to keep up with demand.
Wilson also uses clay in his designs, of which there have been shortages. “When I see it, I buy it,” she said.
In another booth, Mutsuko Mitsui is a potter who makes small pendants and clay sculptures (her company is Flyingcat Creations). She uses a lot of animal motifs and references to the human body.
“This year has been the busiest year I have had. The best year, ”she says.
“Why?” I ask.
“I’m trying to figure out why. There is a fair amount of traffic here. There are people traveling and they are ready to buy handmade items.
Throughout the craft section of Pike Place Market, the artisans told me, as long as they had materials on hand to work with, they did well.
But those who have had to restock have faced shortages and price increases.
Emmanuelle Shih sells “grunge hats” on her stand. While she had enough fabric from last year to scratch off, her new fabric didn’t arrive until December 20! It didn’t give him much time for production.
“You know, this shopping season is almost over, so now I’m going to have quite a lot of inventory for next year,” she said.
Which could be a good thing. Because if all the tourists present in the market are an indication, next year should be a good year for these craftsmen.