Spend a Few Minutes with Mary Bacarella, New Executive Director of Pike Place Market

The Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority's new executive director on history, goals and the gum wall.

This article appears in print in the March 2018 issue, as part of the cover story, "The Pike Place Market Economy." Click here for a free subscription.

In January, shortly after taking over as executive director of the PDA, Mary Bacarella sat down with Seattle Business Executive Editor Leslie Helm. 

THE MARKET: “My heart belongs to the market. I come here all the time. I do my Christmas shopping here. I do my grocery shopping here. It’s my history.”

PRIORITIES: “I’ve been here two weeks. One of my main priorities is to listen to people. I’ve had five to six meetings a day. I’m listening to our leadership team and our staff. I’ve been to a Friends of the Market meeting, a Pike Place Market Foundation meeting and I’ll have a historical commission meeting. I’ll be meeting with the vendors. They are the market and I want to hear what they have to say.”

MARKETFRONT EXPANSION: “It’s beautiful. On a nice day, you see the snow-capped mountains with the water. It’s the most pleasant, serene place it can be. It just opened in June. We need to figure out internally how it works. We need to know how our vendors and constituents use the market because they are our priority. Then how do we incorporate events? We wanted to start small and expand out.”

THE FUTURE: “Everybody is passionate about this market. If you look to the past when you innovate, there are some answers there. We need to focus on locals, to remind them we are here. There are young people moving to Seattle who want fresh, organic, sustainable. What [they] want is right here in the middle of the city.” 

THE GUM WALL: “For 20 years, I was a volunteer/business manager for Unexpected Productions, an improv group in the market since the early 1990s. Our audience would line up outside and someone started by putting a piece of gum up with a penny and suddenly the whole wall was covered with gum and coins. The market told us to scrape off the gum. Then the audience started it up again. I scraped gum off that wall twice before the market said, ‘It’s as quirky as the market; you can keep the gum wall.’” 

Read the rest of the cover story here.

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