Seattle’s Pike Place Market is more than a city landmark. More than a place where locals can shop and tourists gawk at fish-flinging vendors. It’s the hub of a vibrant community that has been hard-hit by this spring’s public-health emergency.

Even as social distancing restrictions loosen and business picks up, the market community faces a long, tough road to recovery. A new online fundraising effort offers a chance to help.

Before coronavirus struck, the market was a thrumming hub of activity. Today, only a few dozen of the market’s 500-or-so merchants are open. Shoppers and tourists are scarce.

Market supporters will have a chance to help and revisit the market’s vibrant scene, if only virtually, during a free, livestreamed “Support the Market” event that will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. It promises to be a welcome diversion in support of a worthy cause.

The event, hosted by the Pike Place Market Foundation, will kick off fundraising for a $3.5 million recovery fund to support the market’s commercial tenants, day stallers, farmers and buskers, and the tens of thousands of other people who rely on the foundation’s social programs. It will include live performances and merchants’ stories of their struggles and the adaptations they’ve made to safely operate in the time of COVID-19.

The drive will help establish a new small business recovery fund to support the 500 local independent businesses in the market community, including grants and help adjusting business models to post-coronavirus realities.

Advertising

This week’s donation drive will also replenish funds for an array of social programs the market supports for its 500 residents and surrounding neighborhood. They include a medical clinic, senior center, food bank, the Heritage House assisted living program, preschool and community resource center.

Those resources have been significantly strained in recent months, said Pike Place Market Foundation spokeswoman Patricia Gray.

Finally, donations will help fund the Market Community Safety Net, which provides one-time emergency funding to help market community members pay a bill, like rent or groceries, combined with supports to help ensure long-term economic stability.

It may be weeks or months before the beloved Pike Place Market returns to the bustling hive of activity that has endeared it to generations. For now, “Support the Market” offers a chance to rekindle and support the spirit it represents.

To RVSP and donate, text MARKET to 91999 or visit pikeplacemarketfoundation.org