For Cindy Hallett, the day begins at 4:30 a.m. at Hallett’s Market and Cafe, where she prepares fresh pasta, deli items and creates custom gift baskets.
By 10 a.m., she’s ready to greet customers with a warm welcome when the doors open –which is something she’s done for decades.
Hallett’s Market and Cafe – a Spokane Valley staple that carries Northwest-themed products, local coffee, specialty wine, beer, candies and gifts – celebrated its 40th anniversary Saturday.
Hallett’s husband Tom, a former BNSF engineer, and his brother, Joel, founded Hallett’s Farms in 1978. It began as a strawberry and raspberry farm in Otis Orchards.
The family also sold and shipped Washington apples and pears to customers. But, because apples and pears are seasonal, they began making their own peanut butter brittle and selling it across Washington.
“When we first started making peanut brittle, one of our first clients was the first Starbucks in Seattle,” Hallett said.
The business in 1980 moved to a building at the former Holiday Hills Ski Resort near Liberty Lake, where they produced candy for about six years.
Hallett’s was divided up when Joel moved the candy factory closer to his residence in North Spokane. Cindy and Tom relocated the market to its current location at 14109 E. Sprague Avenue in Spokane Valley to be closer to their customer base.
At that time, there wasn’t a lot of nearby businesses in the Valley, Hallett said.
“My husband and I, when we moved into our location here, we were the first people in the Valley that served espresso,” she said.
The Halletts had several wholesale accounts for their peanut brittle, including Macy’s and former department store Frederick & Nelson.
“But, we kind of drew back and now keep it local,” she said. “We try to support local people and try to be a small business.”
Hallett, a former district court clerk, quit her job to work full time at the market. Tom is retired, but occasionally helps out with the business.
And, although weathering the Great Recession wasn’t easy, the market was able to thrive.
“By having a diverse mix of business and corporate accounts, that kind of kept me going,” she said.
Hallett said the market draws mostly locals, but when the weather is nice, people visit from all over the Northwest and Alaska.
Spokane Valley resident Carol Stobie, a member of senior exercise group Valley Striders, said more than 25 members meet at Hallett’s the first Friday of every month for coffee and lunch.
Stobie said Hallett’s has sponsored the Striders group since 2004 by providing snacks, such as chocolate or a slice of pie, as an award for miles walked.
“Cindy and Tom are practically like family. My husband and I go there often for lunch or for late breakfast,” she said. “She has the greatest employees and it’s a great neighborhood deli. But, Cindy is especially dear to the Striders.”
Hallett said she’s in awe of generations of families that visit the market.
“I have been so lucky to have met so many wonderful people,” she said. “I never thought about it until 40 years came around. People have passed away over the years, but their grandkids come in. We started out with a lot of older people coming here, but now, we’re getting younger generations.”
Hallett’s best advice for people wanting to start a small business?
“You really need to make it your passion, and you have to be willing to work it day and night as long as you can,” she said.
Hallett hopes to keep the market going for decades to come.
“I like what I do,” she said. “I don’t have plans of retiring. We might even have a 50th anniversary.”
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