The path from Riverfront Park’s fountain and the Winter’s Farmers Market at the Pavilion was bustling Wednesday evening.
The Pavilion glittered in a holiday light show as surround-sound speakers played Burl Ives’ “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.” A toddler in her pink coat looked up in awe as a couple with a dog milled through the outdoor market and prepared for the wait to get to the indoor portion of the event.
Over 1,800 people moseyed through the park, said Amy Lindsey, the park’s programming and marketing manager. That number was up from about 600 shoppers at last week’s market launch. The new market will run every Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. through Jan. 27.
Amy Gurel, at her booth full of homemade glass art and mittens, said she’d seen many families and couples looking stunned. There’s a lot to take in – a curtain of Christmas lights above one bridge, a light show on the fountain and more than a dozen decorated Christmas trees.
“You get that real winter wonderland, Christmas cheer,” Gurel said. “It’s great because us vendors don’t have a lot of shows this year. And it’s dual-purpose, because it’s also helping the city to realize how beautiful Spokane really is.”
Lindsey said the market and the park’s grand decorations were funded with a CARES act grant through the county to bring more business downtown. They need it, she said.
Spokane County has already sent out about $11 million in federal COVID-19 grants to small businesses, with awards ranging from around $2,500 to $10,000. A second $11 million in grants, which can be up to $20,000 per business, is scheduled to go out later this month.
Lindsey said she and her colleagues didn’t know what to expect Wednesday, but seeing the crowd more than double from last week gave her hope.
“We were all pretty happy with the numbers this evening,” Lindsey said. “This is all people downtown. They’re looking for things to eat, they’re going to the mall, they’re skating at the ice ribbon.”
Around 5 p.m., a line had formed outside Boo Radley’s toys and gift shop across from the park.
Though COVID-19 has increased businesses’ need for the attraction, staff at the park have been talking about starting a winter market since she started working for the park three years ago, Lindsey said.
“We fall under farmer’s market guidelines as an essential service and we’re connecting the community with these small businesses in a safe environment,” Lindsey said. “It’s kind of crazy that it all came to fruition in the time of COVID, but now we’re going to be doing this every year.”
For Parker and Pyper Cagle, 16-year-old twin sisters, the market is helping them grow business.
They started Gingers’ Candle Company at 13 with the help of their family and Cheney High School’s DECA program.
The sisters work out of their family’s basement, using natural waxes and scents to hand-pour their candles. They’ve mostly made sales on their website, gingerscandlecompany.com, where they can customize candles with several wax base options and more than 100 fragrances choices.
Being relatively new to farmers markets, they were excited to see how busy their booth was Wednesday.
“The people of Spokane really support small businesses,” Parker Cagle said.
The Cagle twins will be joined by more booths soon. Lindsey said from last week to Wednesday, the market increased from 14 to 20 booths.
More vendors have reached out, and she said the park will open a call for vendors on its website this week.
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