• Oliver Scott

Point Ruston Public Market, Tacoma

It seems to be a knee-jerk response when we see cranes and construction..." here goes another generic apartment building with a generic sandwich shop and nothing locally focused".

Well, the Point Ruston Public Market in Tacoma is showing us how it's done.

Nestled right down on the waterfront of Tacoma's beautiful Puget Sound, the Point Ruston Market is a pleasant surprise offering an entire indoor shopping experience of local vendors.

This is exactly what we mean by "Development Without Displacement", interweaving new construction with the community.

It was the shop owners of West Coast Laser Design that posted about it on social media that inspired our visit...especially because in passing, as the location was under construction, it simply looked like more apartments.

We obviously had to go straight to their booth to meet the people behind the laser engraved mugs and souvenirs we've seen on IG. When Covid first began, they made the "Social Distancing Champion" coffee mug that ended up becoming a high-demand item as well as their most recent "Bernie In A Chair mood" mug. We spoke with Charlene, half of the mother-daughter team, who started the shop three years ago and she said business has been growing rapidly since the start. They've been in this particular location since August and said it's been great to have a physical store to sell their merchandise out of. Her daughter, Nicole, is the one who runs the socials accounts so if you're ever on Instagram give them a follow and say hello from us.

Charlene said the leases for these shops are yearly, so a vendor doesn't have to pack up and go like typical Farmer's Markets do. "The entire second half of the store is still under construction, but will be the grocery side of the building and we're all excited for it to be completed". She also mentioned trying to get a night market going monthly, as they intend to extend the booths to an indoor/outdoor experience in the warmer months.

There are also a handful of businesses on the outside storefronts that are under construction including Tacoma's local, "Only Oatmeal" the local cookie makers, as well as a taco restaurant. Yum!

Can we talk about Sage & Onyx please? Because, the owner Lily, who is a former U.S. Army veteran and Natural Medicine Student, is on our radar for great success. She formulates all of these products with her love for science and chemistry. She was busy with customers so we didn't linger long but we loaded up on some goods and will be back for more! The Tabacco Vanille whipped body butter is so unbelievably good, our social media manager boasts how she can't stop slathering it on her arms, "It sits on my coffee table so I can smell like a fancy Scottish lounge indefinitely". Lily has absolutely nailed the fragrance profiles of her products without a doubt. The bath bombs are luxurious, the handmade soap selection is on another level with creative combinations of scents and options. We can't praise it enough, every soap lover simply must try these products. They are available for purchase online so you can ship them to yourself or send them as a gift.

The folks at Puget Sound Cider Company appeared to be in one of the temporary booths on the outside of the path through the market. These ones are set up on weekends or specific days throughout the week and aren't a permanent store fixture at this location, so we were delighted to catch Nick Hill, Owner, and Head Cider Maker, to chat about his locally made craft ciders. He was very knowledgeable about the process and said the apples they use in their ciders are only sourced from small family-owned farms. These apples are what give the ciders their natural color. You also can see they've won many awards, with their medals placed on the table (see photo). The passion he has for his craft is apparent, as we learned all about the various flavors and how they spend countless hours perfecting each one. "It's interesting how making these ciders has awoken my creative side I didn't even know I had", Nick laughs. We went for the rose' flavor and it did not disappoint!

You could honestly spend hours and hours in the Point Ruston Market. It almost requires several trips to even feel like you've grasped an idea of what's offered, and with the soon-to-launch outdoor extension of local vendors, AND a potential night market, it most certainly invites you back again and again.

See you there, Tacoma!

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