For the 157th week of "7 QUESTION SUNDAY" we shine the spotlight on another influential individual from the PNW. The Waterfront Market at Ruston is an indoor market full of local vendors with everything from upcycled goods to food, bath, clothing, and more! You’ve seen many of the vendors in this series now it’s time to meet the Market!
4EVRGRN: Hey, PK! Tell us a little about yourselves.
PK: My name is Paul Kunitsa, and I am the General Manager of the Waterfront Market at Ruston. Long story short, I was born in Ukraine. Immigrated over to the United States when I was just a young boy. I was raised here in Tacoma, WA by my wonderful parents, Igor & Lyudmila. I went to Washington State University and studied Construction Management. My professional background is in commercial construction, and I have been in and around the field, almost my entire life. We came into the market in July 2021 and are thrilled and excited for the road ahead.
What are some long-term goals for the market?
PK: On one hand, we are striving to create a market that caters to the needs and wants of the local Tacoma & Ruston community. We want to create a space that is safe, welcoming, and exciting for people of various backgrounds and walks of life. We want to bring in vendors that offer products and activities that everyone can find some enjoyment in. In essence, we want to build this thing into a place that our local community can be proud of, and a place they can’t wait to get to.
On the other hand, we are striving to be a place where businesses can come in and grow and develop alongside each other. Whether it’s an established business, or a new start-up we want the market to be a place where business can collaborate, help, and encourage one another. We believe that by helping one another, we can reach our goals and dreams together.
What should new shoppers know before coming to the market?
PK: I think new shoppers should know that the Waterfront Market is home to many small businesses from around the area. As we all know, these last few years have been extremely difficult for the local community here in Tacoma, and around the world. For small business, it has been a tough battle to stay afloat. When you’re walking through the market as a customer, I hope you understand that each one of our vendors have fought through the difficult and uncertain times and continue to show up and produce the products we all want and need. I think the Waterfront Market is a beautiful resemblance of “Grit City” and these vendors continue to inspire me on a daily basis. When you shop at the Waterfront Market, you should know the hard work and perseverance that goes into each and every product, and the love these vendors have for this community.
You guys have been adding more events at the market, will that continue?
PK: Good question. This ties into the first question a little bit. Short answer is, absolutely.
As we continue to try to build and develop the Waterfront Market into a place for the local community, we want to create something for everyone. We’ve done pet weekends, including puppy costume contests. We partner with Grit City Wellness, to put on free, weekly yoga classes. We’re partnering with Dashboard Skimboards to continue to bring “Washington Surfing” for kids and adults alike. We’ve done food truck events to showcase cuisines from around the world. We’ve done charity events including blood drives, food drives, and puppy adoption events. In essence, we use events as a vessel to continue to build towards our long-term goal of creating a safe, enjoyable, and unique place, that our entire community can share and enjoy.
What makes the market such a popular location for families?
PK: I think the market is a popular location for families for several reasons. The Waterfront Market is a family and pet friendly market with lots of new and exciting things happening every week. We have vendors creating and selling products that cater to all sorts of different interests. We have events that bring excitement for both kids, adults, and pets. We have some incredible food & beverage vendors – EVERYONE LOVES FOOD! In short, as the market is constantly changing and growing, the variety of vendors, products, and activities seem to provide local families a place to gather and enjoy each other’s company. We just love to see it!
What is the best part about business in Point Ruston?
PK: The best part about business in Point Ruston is by far, the people. Since we took over in July 2021, I have been so blessed to meet all the incredible people in our community I had not previously known. I’m so inspired daily by the grit and determination of all the small businesses at the market. I mean these people truly put their blood, sweat, and tears into their craft! We’ve been fortunate to meet and partner with other Point Ruston area businesses who share the same community building vision as us. For example, we work with Grit City Wellness to put on a free yoga class every Tuesday at noon, in the event venue upstairs at the market. It has grown into a very cool venture, that brings people together! And finally, we truly have an incredible customer base! The local patrons are kind, thoughtful and understanding of the hard work every person in the market puts in. It makes it a joy to come to work every day!
What makes the Waterfront Market unique from other markets?
PK: There are several factors that make the market unique. The location is one of a kind. I mean you have a view of the beautiful Commencement Bay on one side. You have the majestic Mt. Rainier on the other side. The parking structure allows us to really have unique activities and events. I mean where else can you find a 150’ skimboarding pool at a market? The building itself allows us to stay open year-round, rain or shine which is a unique aspect in it of itself. The variety of vendors & products at the market is constantly changing, so there’s something new and unique almost every week!
We’re putting you in the hot seat with this one - what’s your favorite local product?
PK: Oh man, this is an impossible question. I’ll take food & beverages out of the questions because it truly changes for me all the time. We have the best tacos at Taco Street, the most delicious cookies/brownie at Only Oatmeal, the finest teas at Tea Madame, Owens Meats has the MEATS, freshest produce at Fardell Farms, and what could be confused as an art gallery – the baked goods at Zaya Café. If I had to pick one local product, it would probably be the live edge tables from Jack + Adeline. Coming from a construction background, I’ve always been fascinated with woodwork and carpentry. Paul from J + A truly delivers a one-of-a-kind product, that just cannot be replicated. You’ve got to see it with your own eyes, it’s absolutely stunning work.
Follow the Waterfront Market on IG and FB @waterfrontmarketruston
Learn more about the Waterfront Market on their website www.waterfrontmarketatruston.com