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Finding your market

Tapping into local artist and craft markets near JBLM

Brook Mclaughlin, owner of Atlas Past, at a Tacoma Is For Lovers artist and craft fair in Tacoma. (Credit: Courtesy of Tacoma Is For Lovers)

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Being a military spouse and an artist comes with its own set of challenges and triumphs. By the time you develop a customer base or artistic reputation in your community, you're packing up for the next duty station and waving goodbye to all that progress. And when you finally arrive at that next military base, you have to start all over again. We know firsthand how frustrating that can be, so we're giving you -- artists and entrepreneurs new to the area -- a chance to tap into the artistic community a little quicker. Here's a short list of some of the best artist and craft markets in the greater Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) area:

Tacoma Night Market

Whether you make clothing, pottery, jewelry, home goods or visual arts, Tacoma Night Market is a great place to show off your wares. This all-ages, monthly market is held every third Saturday of the month, from 5-10 p.m., at Alma Mater Tacoma. The market is free for attendees and has become a hotspot for a new generation of creatives ready to show off their next-level craftsmanship. The market also features live music by local musicians, and food and drink available for purchase. For those hoping to vend at Tacoma Night Market, the time to act is now, as it often takes applicants a few months to get their application approved. Don't let that deter you from heading to the night market next month, though, as it's always inspiring to walk among the aisles of local art and marvel at the creativity.

5-10 p.m., third Saturday of every month, Alma Mater Tacoma, 1322 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, free for marketgoers, vendor cost and application found at

Olympia Farmers Market

After 45 seasons of delivering local, farm-fresh foods and artisan crafts, the Olympia Farmers Market is still one of the top markets for creators south of JBLM. This farmers market is open year-round, and during spring and fall seasons, it occurs every Thursday through Sunday. The market boasts live music, free parking, and more than 100 vendors hawking their goods. Marketgoers and potential vendors will be delighted with the array of fruits and vegetables, fresh and cured meats, baked goods and sweets, textiles, woodcrafts and fresh flowers. If your craft centers around growing, fermenting or preserving foods or flowers, the Olympia Farmers Market is waiting for you.

10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday-Sunday, 700 Capitol Way N., Olympia, free for marketgoers, vendor cost and application found at

Tacoma Is For Lovers

This community-based artist and craft fair is dedicated to "increasing the visibility of local artists and encouraging reuse, intentionality, sustainability, and high craft," and its reputation is second-to-none in the greater Tacoma area. Held three times a year -- on weekends preceding Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Thanksgiving -- Tacoma Is For Lovers is a dazzling showcase of art, jewelry, letterpress prints, apparel, and small home goods. It's held inside King's Books in Tacoma's Stadium District, and has a quirky, lighthearted and cozy vibe. Trust us when we say it's a can't-miss, two-day market for creators specializing in paper goods.

Upcoming market dates to be announced, 218 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, free for marketgoers, vendor cost and application found at

Shipwreck Beads Artisan Market

Imagine 80,000 square feet of beads, workshop spaces, and crafting supplies all under one roof. Now imagine more than 100 vendors selling any and everything "homemade" in the parking lot surrounding that building. If you're having trouble imagining all that creative power concentrated in one place, just head to Shipwreck Beads in Lacey to see it for yourself. The Shipwreck Beads Artisan Market is a bi-annual event, and usually includes food and drink, a beer garden, live music by local musicians, play areas for youth, and raffles and fundraisers benefitting local nonprofit organizations. This is a great market for those looking to sell off-the-beaten-path home décor, beadwork or intricate jewelry. 

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 25-26, Shipwreck Beads, 8560 Commerce Place Dr. NE, Lacey, free for marketgoers, vendor cost and application found at

Tacoma Holiday Food & Gift Festival

Get ready for four days of live music, cooking demonstrations, and 550 booths filled with home décor, seasonal gifts, and handcrafted goods. Yes, you read that correctly: 550 booths. This holiday market is held every fall and is the largest of its kind on the west coast. Vendors from all over the country display their goods at the Holiday Food & Gift Festival, and it's a great place to spend the day immersed in creativity. If you specialize in selling homemade food or drink concoctions, or small gifts for the home, you'll want to reserve a booth at this festival, especially.

10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday-Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 17-20, Tacoma Dome, 2727 East D St., Tacoma, Adults $15.50, Children 12 and under free, vendor cost and application found at

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