La Paloma Marketplace Reignites Children’s Market Virtually

La Paloma Marketplace, one of Tacoma’s first true artisan markets, is reigniting its Children’s Market this spring virtually.

Taking an idea that started early on, proud Native American female entrepreneur Molly Alvarado, owner of La Paloma Marketplace, will launch the La Paloma Kid Virtual Market & Scavenger Hunt on April 10-11 with the help of her 8-year-old grandson, Roman Sky.

The market will be kid-led and operated by Roman along with Alvarado’s help. Roman has even written a book all about how the market works, as well as selling his invention called, Desk Pets, tiny pets for kids to care for during the often-lonely time amid COVID.

Many other children will be featured selling their original creations, and sharing their talents, all with parental permission, and supervision.

Alvarado started La Paloma Marketplace back in 2013, but in early 2005 she held her first Children’s Craft Market in front of her former boutique, Blooming Kids. The shop, a green business that specialized in children’s clothing and toys, also featured a large section of handmade and recycled goods made by local parents and kids.

Although always maintaining a safe space for children to sell its wares, the market would eventually morph into the La Paloma Marketplace, with a mix of mostly adult-crafted goods with some children’s.

With Alvarado’s strong connection to issues like homelessness and mental illness in the PNW region, her focus has always been to have a market that was open to everyone.

She began by organizing community events where adults and children could sell their goods with particular emphasis on goods made by indigenous and BIPOC community members.

“There’s a lot of beautiful creative people of all ages, and cultures, who maybe don’t fit into everyday society,” Alvarado said. “They might not have a polished storefront or a social media presence, but they have a burning desire to create and no outlet for it. I don’t really have any rules. I allow people to be themselves, and I meet them where they’re at.”

“Meeting them where they are” meant mentoring and working with artisans to broaden their ideas and pair them with those that could teach and help develop specific skills.

“We weren’t trying to be trendy,” she said. “We’re taking the diamond in the rough and surrounding them with love and support. Our market is really like a tribe of support.”

When COVID-19 hit last year, in-person markets like La Paloma came to a halt. However, Alvarado maintained a strong presence both through social media and at her website, and also by giving cooking lessons at Molly’s Tamales Cooking Classes.

The collaboration with her grandson opens the doors for any youth, ages 18 and under to submit their ideas and take part in the La Paloma Kid Virtual Market.

A painted rock scavenger hunt will take place at Wright Park on April 11, from 12 p.m.-2 p.m. with all COVID-19 protocols being followed. Those finding golden rocks will receive special prizes from community sponsors.

With hopes of in-person events resuming soon, Alvarado plans to have two markets in the future, one for adults and one for children, continuing the all-inclusive creative vibe La Paloma is known for.

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