by Kirby LindsayThis summer Seattlites gained two new community markets in which to stroll and shop. In Georgetown, at 6010 Airport Way South, “it’s a hybrid market, with a flea market component,” set alongside the farmer’s market, explained Jon Hegeman, on Saturdays from 10a – 3p. In Belltown, according to Hegeman, the Seattle Art Museum “wanted to experiment with their outdoor sculpture park,” and that partnership has created the Olympic Sculpture Park Farmer’s Market on Thursdays, 3:30p – 7:30p.
From Where It All Began
“We always wanted to have two or three good markets that could support the two or three families involved,” Hegeman explained, of the latest markets that sprung from the foundation set with the Fremont Sunday Market.
Hegeman, and his wife, Candace Reiter, started a flea/farmer’s/crafters market in Fremont, on a parking lot behind the (then location) of Red Door, in September, 1990. While many community members, and bureaucrats, stared blankly as Hegeman described his vision – a street market like ones he and Reiter sold at while living in England – the first weekend drew huge crowds of curious shoppers.
With the help, and hard work, of Judith Kirkhuff and Doug Farr, and their families, Hegeman has expanded that initial vision – first to Ballard. “Ballard’s really what a market should be,” as Hegeman described. Held in the historic section of the neighborhood, the market sits among “delicious architecture,” surrounded by street trees, bistros, and unique shops that “create a distinctive atmosphere,” Hegeman bragged. Plus, the market attracts “an enormous collection of buskers (street musicians) that serenade.” Farmers regularly sell out their products and produce, Hegeman reported, and “it’s a wonderful use of their time. The selection is probably the best in the city.” It has become one of the most popular markets, with 10,000 people visiting every week and current contender in American Farmland Trust’s America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest.
As Fremont’s Sister Market, Ballard caters to a ‘foodie’ crowd while Fremont has cornered the market on the eclectic flea, craft and artisan vendors – with both open year ‘round on Sundays. The Ballard Market model has also created its own sister’s - the Madrona Friday Farmer’s Market and the Wallingford Wednesday Farmer’s Market, both open from 3p – 7p and both due to close for the season in the last week of September.
Both of these markets have a smaller scope than their older sibling, but they have still blossomed. The Wallingford market, currently located at Wallingford Center, may relocate next year to a larger location – and part of that success comes from the support of the community. “The [Wallingford] Chamber has been our sponsor all along,” Hegeman praised, “they see the market as a tool,” for community building.
Fremont, Twenty Years Later?
Since opening the Fremont Market, Hegeman has seen a slow shift in City policy in support of markets. Today he has seen “a much bigger appreciation of the community building power of markets.” As properties sit fallow, waiting for development, neighborhoods can enliven their streets with a market, like Fremont did in 1990, and Georgetown has today.
“It’s exactly like Fremont, in the womb,” Hegeman joked about Georgetown, “I went to a meeting and there was a ‘Mike Peck’, a ‘Suzie Burke’, a ‘Charlotte Buchanan’, and me,” he mentioned personalities that populated Fremont twenty years ago. Georgetown also has a growing arts community and, perhaps most important for market-building, empty property.
“It was the Rainier cold storage building,” he explained, about the site of the Georgetown markets, “it was scheduled for development, but that’s on hold.” He called the owner, Sabey Corporation, and asked ‘are you guys interested in having a market?’ According to Hegeman, they responded with, ‘what are you doing right now?’ and he said he would be right over.
“We provide the muscle, you provide the space,” Hegeman said. As the summer season wraps up for Madrona, Wallingford, Georgetown and the Olympic Sculpture Park markets, Hegeman asks himself, ‘what were we thinking?’ Yet, he’s pleased to expand the legacy, and success, of the Fremont Sunday Market; to “put our market in a box,” and take it on the road and see how it helps bring other communities together.
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.