Philip Deng is a man on a mission to build a food hall incubator for immigrant, refugee, and indigenous entrepreneurs. As the executive director of his four-year-old nonprofit MarketShare, Deng's been eyeing a vacant, street-level area of King Street Station as a future destination for international street food for the better part of three years.
"If you really want something to be public, as sort of the ancient markets of the world are, you have to think in terms of people," explains Deng. Like the many food markets that will come before MarketShare, community is key. "People needed a place to gather and it was the people themselves who created it." That's why MarketShare's fundraising campaign is a little different: raise $100,000 through 100,000 one-dollar donations.
The nonprofit is launching its campaign on May 2 at Optimism Brewing. Dubbed "100,000 Founders," MarketShare's crowdfounding—yes, a clever play on crowdfunding—will start to collect those George Washingtons from 6 to 8pm at the Capitol Hill brewery. (If you want to send your buck virtually, you can do that on MarketShare's website.)
As for the future food hall, architects have already sketched out space for eight to 10 vendors, all of which will serve a unique offering or cuisine—many even rarely found in Seattle, says Deng. They're concepts and businesses will incubate in the warm, cozy hub of King Street Station for two years until they're ready to be pushed out of the proverbial nest. It's all a part of Deng's vision to bring something to the International District that's new but at the same time honors the historically diverse cultures of the neighborhood.
"It's a leap of faith but we believe that people are going to feel empowered that we're making this market," says Deng. "There's no other way to do it."