The Spokane Public Market has scheduled its opening day for May 18. On Monday morning, vendors, supporters and board members got together for that announcement at the indoor market’s new location on the corner of West Second Avenue and South Browne Street. That’s next to Sun People, Dry Goods.
“Sustainable agriculture is what this institution is all about,” said John Hancock, interim executive director of the Spokane Public Market. “Here you’ll be able to buy your food from people who have a story to tell you about it.”
The Public market will be open Wednesday through Saturday year-round.
The 21,000-square-foot building was the Roses n’ More warehouse, and it’s owned and developed by Pacific Bridge. The market has a 15-year lease agreement with the goal to purchase the building in 2014.
Hancock said $400,000 needs to be raised for building improvements.
“That’s not money for the farmers; that’s money for the building,” Hancock said.
Hancock explained that local, in a Spokane Public Market context, means from the state of Washington and its boundary counties.
About 40 vendors have already signed up for market stands and 100 vendors are interested, Hancock said.
The Public Market is not seeking to replace other area farmers markets, but to provide an extra outlet for farmers and growers.
“It gives me a stable, year-round venue,” said David McCullough, of Susie David’s Cattle Co..
McCullough sells beef at local farmers markets and said he just added 150 hens to his farm so he can begin to sell eggs.
“It’s actually 147 hens because three of the chickens turned out to be roosters,” he said with a laugh. “We’ll continue to be at the other markets where people are used to seeing us.”
Hancock explained that the public market will be more like a mall than a farmers market, because it will feature music, jugglers and many other kinds of entertainment.
“And parking will be free,” Hancock said.
Over the years, various incarnations of the Spokane Public Market have bounced around town from address to address. A warehouse on the corner of Division Street and Riverside Avenue was the Spokane Marketplace’s home from 1991 to 1995. It then moved several times, at one point occupying an old building in the block where KHQ-TV is now located. It was in Riverfront Park for a while, first out in the open and later in a warehouse that belonged to the Spokane Parks Department. It ceased operations in that warehouse in early 2005.
Kay Stoltz, president of the Spokane Public Market’s board, said the project has been under way for a long time.
“None of us knew what we were getting into when we got together back then,” Stoltz said about the first meetings back in 2007. “But this feels great. We are going to be supporting Spokane.”
Retaining the right mix of vendors at a market is trickier than it appears.
Some shoppers are purists and come solely for locally grown, in-season food wares and perhaps the occasional loaf of bread. Others come to enjoy the market experience and be tempted by various deals.
The Spokane Public Market Place is aiming for about 75 percent food vendors and 25 percent artisan wares and value-added products.
“We will mostly have people set up indoors, but we will also have food trucks and some people set up on the perimeter and outside,” said Stoltz.
Wayne McMorris is in charge of rustling up vendors.
“I’ve been working with the local growers for the last three or four years,” said McMorris. “They want an indoor market and they want stability and they want to be able to sell their goods.”
Arabesque Bakery’s Tom Tuffin is already selling bread and baked goods at other farmers markets, including the South Perry Market. He’s looking forward to joining the Spokane Public Market.
“I think this is great,” `Tuffin said. “Making local food available to shoppers is always a good thing.”