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Pivoting to help small businesses in the Market

Posted September 28, 2020

For our small, local Market businesses, the past six months have been challenging.

As you know by now, Pike Place Market is not immune to the economic effects we are seeing across our city and region due to COVID-19. Although the Market remains open, we have seen a significant impact throughout the community as many businesses continue to face closures, reduced capacity and a complete restructure of how business is done. All of these changes have led to complete or dramatic loss of revenue and mounting expenses for the Market’s 500 small businesses for more than six months now.

The Pike Place Market Foundation was established in 1982 to provide a community of support to our downtown and Market neighbors. As part of our COVID-19 response, we’ve adapted and expanded our work to address the emerging needs of our social service programs and partners and the Market community as a whole. One key component of our model for a healthy community for all is economic stability, which is why we’re pivoting our services to also invest in the stability of Market small businesses recovering from revenue lost during the pandemic.  

For the first time in Market Foundation history, we launched a recovery fund specifically for our Market businesses and began making grants out of the fund in July. In partnership with the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority (PDA) and with input from Market businesses, we launched the Market’s Small Business Recovery Fund. This program allows us to directly invest in the recovery of our Market businesses by providing quick, flexible and critical gap funding and inspire an action plan to help them overcome obstacles presented by the COVID-19 crisis and transition to new economic conditions. 

In this first phase of the Small Business Recovery Fund, we’ve invested a total of $250,000 to 39 Market businesses, providing critical gap funding and ongoing support for businesses to develop a plan to transition to new economic conditions. We are giving affected businesses the ability to develop new strategies to meet the current challenges of doing business in this environment.

“I really think this is a great program. Not only because it gives us much needed funds to help with this crisis, but also because it asks us to think about an action plan,” said one Market business that received a grant. “This is important because otherwise people get the funds but haven’t necessarily thought about how to spend it most effectively.”

A key element to this fund is our community resource team at The Market Commons, who are administering the program and providing ongoing support for the small businesses. As with all of the services available through The Commons, there’s an emphasis on real human connection and creating an opportunity for business owners to ask questions, seek advice, and collaborate.

Many applicants to the fund have already expressed how meaningful it is to be able to talk to one of our team members available in real time.

“We didn’t submit the PPP or the SBA application because it was too confusing, but after you walked me through the process I think I can do this one,” said a Market business owner.

We’re rolling out our Recovery Fund in phases in order to administer immediate aid for Market businesses highly impacted by the closures. After all, Pike Place Market is more than the flagship eateries, shops, and restaurants on full display from the cobblestones. Market businesses that are tucked away (such as the lower-level ‘Down Under’ space) are some of the most unique nooks and crannies of our unique Market; these businesses have been particularly impacted by the loss of foot traffic and limitations with in-person shopping. 

“This grant is really well thought out,” said one Small Business Recovery Grant recipient, “It really fits the Market where every business is so unique.”

“This is such a big boost right now!” said another recipient of the Recovery Fund, “This will take care of my back rent and pay for a web designer to create a website for my business.”

As we continue to roll out the next phases of our Small Business Recovery Fund, we look to expand our relief efforts to the microbusinesses of the Market. This includes the craft and art businesses on the daystall line and the smallest shops in the Market, many of which are owner-operated and the sole means of income for an individual and their family. 

The Small Business Recovery Fund is vital to our goal of supporting the economic stability of Pike Place Market and helping cultivate a strong community for all.

Help us invest in our small, local Market business through a gift to the Small Business Recovery Fund!


“This makes such a huge difference for our business,” said another Market business that received the fund. “It makes me so happy and grateful to be a part of this community where everyone supports each other.”