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Open Aire uptick: Sequim Market sees biggest year yet

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— image credit:

Spring Preview opens season for vendors
at Carrie Blake Park on Saturday


by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

Doubling efforts went a long way for the Sequim Open Aire Market last year.

 

Vendors added a Wednesday market and more new businesses with plenty of fresh foods, and/or handmade local goods to make 2010’s total their biggest yet.

 

About 30 vendors are providing a taste of their products at the Spring Preview event 10 a.m. Saturday, April 2, at Guy Cole Convention Center in Carrie Blake Park.

 

“Even though the (economic) market is down, it’s helping our market and keeping people local,” said Lisa Bridge, market manager.

 

In 2010, the group brought in $252,200, which was about $200 more than their next-biggest year, 2007.

 

Bridge said a large portion of their success comes from the new Wednesday market on the corner of Washington Street and Sequim Avenue. It opened for 35 Wednesdays, grossing $21,500, with space for 20 vendors. An average of 10 vendors came, depending on weather.

 

Bridge conceptualized the Wednesday market and she and other vendors felt it was a big boost. Without it, the market would have grossed less than in 2009, which led to some financial problems.

 

“Looking at the numbers, people were on board with buying local produce,” Bridge said. “It’s ideal for food and produce. Some people were excited to shop on a Wednesday rather than a Saturday. It’s different for everyone and definitely has a loyal customer base on Wednesdays.”

 

The Wednesday Market runs noon-6 p.m. May 18-Dec. 21.

Good standing

Financially, board members and Bridge said the market is in much better financial standing compared to last year. The market ran into early financial troubles with paying Bridge, a then-recent hire who had a six-week layoff while board members worked on finance issues and restructuring her former market director position.

 

“I was very optimistic and wanted to remain forward-thinking,” Bridge said.

 

She did. The market had 96 vendors with 26 of those new, including Jose’s Famous Salsa. Angee Garcia, who helps her husband with the salsa business, said they didn’t miss a single market.

 

“We wanted to get our product out there,” Garcia said. “We wanted people from Sequim to know us first.

It’s definitely growing. When we started we had three stores carrying our salsa and now we have nine from Clallam Bay to Chimacum.”

 

Their dedication to their business and the market and friendliness to visitors won them the “Spirit of the Market” award.

 

“They are an absolutely perfect example of a success story of a hometown market,” said Val Jackson, market board president and owner of Whimsical Woods birdhouses and bird feeders.

Sweet 15

This May marks the 15th year for the market.

 

Bridge said historically vendors do great on Irrigation Festival and Sequim Lavender Festival weekends due to the number of locals and tourists seeing they are open.

 

They are hosting a special corner lot opening at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 7, the first weekend of Irrigation Festival, and then kicking off their regular Cedar Street openings 9 a.m. Saturday, May 14.

 

Despite those high numbers, Jackson said he’s still surprised by the number of people who live here who have not visited the market.

 

“If you have visitors, it’s the perfect social event,” he said. “We have music every Saturday, too.”

 

In January, an informational meeting welcomed a handful of new vendors into the fold, including Pane d’Amore Artisan Bakery.

 

Bridge said a few of her goals for market vendors and herself would be engaging people and being more personal. She also wants to get a better survey of who is visiting and from where. She said in the past year the trend showed more younger people attended.

 

The most significant monetary negative from 2010 was in arts and crafts, which Bridge hopes to see bounce back. Sales for those vendors went down by $3,000 last year whereas other sellers mostly showed major increases or a slight decrease across the market.

 

“It’s all handmade and unique. We’re anti-knickknack and don’t allow things to be bought or sold from another country. People love local,” Jackson said. “It’s high quality. These aren’t dealers but artisans.”

The biggest upward trend was in plant/ produce vendors by $15,000.

 

“It’s amazing. Produce was in the ground two days before and you don’t how good it is until you taste it,” Jackson said Bridge believes vendors are more than willing to brave the weather to get their product to the people.

 

“It takes a lot of stamina and positivity to stand out there with your product,” Bridge said.

 

Basic fees for vendors are $10 plus 5 percent of sales on Saturdays and 5 percent of sales on Wednesdays.

 

More details on the Sequim Open Aire Market can be found at www.sequimmarket.com or by calling Lisa Bridge at 460-2668.

 


Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

 

 

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