It’s about the kids. And vintage and artisan goods. And, above all, promoting the diversity and talent of our city.

The La Paloma Marketplace Street Market (formerly Tacoma Flea Market) is back for its fourth season, in a big way. You may have already come to know and love the weekly Saturday market at Proctor. With local vendors, live music and a friendly outdoor shopping experience, all the elements that have made La Paloma Tacoma’s longest-running flea market will definitely still be there. You’ll find vintage clothing, handmade jewelry, soap and candles, and much more. You can still come out and make a morning stroll of it and shop the Proctor Farmer’s Market across the street. However, this year, founder Molly Alvarado is excited to present some new elements to make the market even bigger and better, and more of a symbol of the hope and possibility that Tacoma stands for.

Dog Friendly Market Tacoma
Bring your dog out to shop at La Paloma Marketplace, a dog-friendly outdoor space. Photo courtesy: La Paloma Marketplace

La Paloma is returning to its original focus as a fun, affordable vintage flea market. Catie Diaz of The Happy Traveling Market will be joining Alvarado this year, bringing some of her vendors, her sweet vintage flair and her own unique style to add to the market’s offerings. “Catie has a military family, and will be moving soon. She has built such a strong following with The Happy Traveling Market, I wanted to offer a space for her and her vendors here at La Paloma this summer. By collaborating, I think we combine our strengths and our own unique styles to make something that’s even ‘more’ for our local community,” Molly says.

Catie says, “I’m most excited to work with Molly at the La Paloma Marketplace because not only is she a good friend and mentor of mine, she is full of great ideas and really has a passion for helping other artists and makers hone in on what makes them passionate about their products and helps give them the tools they may be missing to really help grow their businesses.”

Lauren Kupka's Cupcake Booth
Lauren Kupka, the talent behind Kupkake’s Creations, is just one of the youth vendors who will be showing their wares at the market this year. Photo courtesy: Jennifer Kupka

Another new element at La Paloma this year is the focus on celebrating kids’ talent. For a nominal cost, kids and youth are able to have a vendor space at the market this year. The market has always been family-friendly, and Alvarado has always been a big supporter of young entrepreneurs. (She herself started vending at an early age – read more about her here.) However, this year, the show belongs primarily to kids, who are absolutely treated like serious vendors. Kids will learn about promoting their own work and each will help out with a small volunteer role at the market to help create a well-rounded educational experience that is meaningful and fun.

Alvarado has always been passionate about supporting emerging talent in our area. A local businesswoman and event planner, she has lovingly watched the market serve as an “incubator” for our city’s makers, including some vendors who now even have brick and mortar locations. As part of her passion for developing local talent, she will be offering free social media and other small business workshops this summer, featuring local artisans as guest speakers around Tacoma. “I want the community to have access to these classes…there’s no one right way to do things, so I want to bring in diverse perspectives,” she says.

La Paloma Button Making
A youth helper at Bicycle Soap Company helps with button making at last year’s market. Photo courtesy: La Paloma Marketplace

La Paloma is also open to food vendors this year. Growing up visiting her grandmother’s family farm, the farm-to-table mentality is important to Alvarado. She says the market offers a special spot for vendors who grow produce or make ready-to-eat foods who want to offer their goods to the public but maybe not yet ready for a full-scale farmer’s market booth all season. She also is excited to put a “green” focus on this year’s market, encouraging sustainability in everything from vendor products to reusable shopping bags. For Molly, the market is about a whole way of living in harmony with our local culture and talent.

Another important focus this year is working to embrace diverse cultural traditions. Alvarado, who has indigenous Native American heritage and is passionate about preserving artistic cultural traditions, especially wants to promote work by artists of diverse backgrounds, and encourages makers of traditional indigenous items to apply. She truly wants to the market to reflect Tacoma, from music to vendors to shoppers, and says above all, “The whole idea of the market is that it is an accessible, diverse space where everyone in our city is welcome.”

Dog Friendly Market Tacoma
Bring your dog out to shop at La Paloma Marketplace, a dog-friendly outdoor space. Photo courtesy: La Paloma Marketplace

In talking with Alvarado about the market, she has her trademark gleam in her eye. Each year she is adding something new and different, and she says this year, market fans can expect to see some special events yet to be announced. She will also host some special occasions throughout the year, such as the popular Striezelmarkt German holiday market in late fall.

La Paloma is accepting vendor applications. Because the market offers the chance to vend occasionally (for those with full-time jobs, families, and/or those who are just starting out and haven’t built up to a full-time booth yet), the great news is you can apply online at any time during the season.

La Paloma Marketplace opens for the season Saturday, June 15, 2019. Come shop every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. through September 14 at 3801 North 27th Street in Proctor. La Paloma is free, wheelchair accessible and open to all.

To follow what’s new with La Paloma, check out the website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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