It is almost exactly a year since we launched our report Markets Matter at the 9th International Public Markets Conference in Barcelona. The report listed the 25 most important reasons why this was the case, and one year on new insight from the Brookings Institution on Pike Place Market Seattle provides an illustration for many of these.

"The Pike Place Market is a beloved part of Seattle and really unlike any other place. It’s open 363 days a year and provides space for local farmers, artisan vendors, and small businesses to thrive." says the article by Jessica A Lee of Brookings following her discussion with John Turnbull, Director of Asset Management at Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority. It is, however, much more than that as it "offers a wide range of social services, including a food bank, a health clinic, a senior center, child care and preschool, and assisted living for the elderly. It’s also home to nearly 500 residents who live in a mix of rent-subsidized apartments, market-rate units, and luxury condos as well as a boutique hotel and a bed-and-breakfast—all within the four-block district.".

Looking in more detail at what happens in Pike Place Market provides the illustration for the findings in the Markets Matter report. It is clear that the market supports innovation and business incubation. It creates and supports employment and it helps businesses to grow and this builds a strong local economy. Through effective governance and management, and through sustained investment, the market is maintaining the area's cultural heritage, attracting tourists and serving local people. It is supporting disadvantaged communities, promoting community cohesion and social inclusion and directly benefiting community health. It has an expected revenue of US$18 million this year.

"The [Preservation and Development Authority] Council operates the market as a business, but it doesn’t make decisions strictly based on profit. We think about return on investment in terms of social benefit to the community. The council looks at a whole host of qualitative measures that aren’t easily captured by quantitative metrics. For instance, how do you measure “local pride”? That’s why we end up referring to our charter so often—and also why we encourage our constituents to use the charter guidelines to measure our results."

Like all markets, Pike Place is having to adjust to societal changes. "These changes got us thinking about what the market needs to do to stay relevant. Bringing in new businesses and younger entrepreneurs is part of this strategy, as are initiatives like our pop-up Express Markets, which bring fresh produce to different locations throughout the city mid-June through September. This summer we’re starting a weekly evening market at Pike Place so that local customers can shop without having to wade through the weekend tourist crowds.

"We’ll always be hyper-local and focused on building a strong community of market patrons and vendors. That emphasis on personal connection sets the market apart—it’s something you just can’t replicate with e-commerce."

You can read the whole of the Brookings piece here and we will post it in our Market Management suggested readings for future reference. You will also find access to the Markets Matter report which was commissioned by the National Association of British Market Authorities and which used data from Springboard and research undertaken as part of an Economic and Social Research Council supported project.