by Kirby Lindsay, published March 22, 2000 in The Seattle Press
Publisher’s Note: This column originally appeared in The Seattle Press newspaper, published March 22, 2000.
At the October Fremont Chamber of Commerce Board Meeting (read highlights on Fremocentrist.com,) Ryan Reiter-Hegeman reminded the assembled of the impact and sustained success of the Fremont Sunday Market. He also promoted the Winter Feast food truck & winter ale festival taking place at the Market on Sunday, November 17th, to kick-off the holiday shopping season at this year-round shopping extravaganza.
This column is being re-posted in honor of how the Market has grown, and yet stayed true to its foundations and maintained its popularity for 23 years!
What can I write about the Fremont Sunday Market that you don’t already know? Anyone who enjoys fresh produce, great bargains, unique crafts or wandering aimlessly on a sunny Sunday afternoon knows all about the Market. Probably more than I can tell you.
I can share, as a long-time Fremonster, what it was like around here before the Market arrived. Quiet. I remember walking through Fremont on a random Sunday and enjoying the lack of people on the sidewalks (I hate crowds) and listening to the steady thrum of tires on the pavement as cars drove through the neighborhood. Few businesses were open, so I felt like I had the whole district to myself.
Do I miss it? Not for a minute! Now I spend Sundays at work, selling books to people on their way to the Market. People, eyes shining with excitement, regale me with stories of their rare finds. Friends stop by after picking up a few items for dinner. I have customers, from Tacoma, Bellingham, and beyond, who only come to Fremont on Sundays to visit the Market.
Jon Hegeman is the founder of the Fremont Sunday Market. Hegeman is an American who in 1969 became a cultural refugee. Looking for intelligent life on the planet after failing to find it at Syracuse University, he wandered Europe. Candace Reiter, his wife, originally met him in the States but caught up with him eventually in England.
By the time their son Ryan arrived, Jon was building a career in advertising and Candace was selling her handmade pouch bags, cushions and quilts at markets all over England.
Leaving their home at 2:30a.m. each weekend, she would travel to Camden Lock Market to wait in line for six hours until Eric, who assigned market spaces, arrived to select names out of a hat. At least, that was the idea. Actually, he would pull slips out and announce names of friends and favorites without paying the slightest attention to the name written on the ticket.
In 1981 Jon was stranded in Seattle due to the Air Controllers Strike. Giving up his plane ticket to a local artist and landlord, in exchange for an apartment, gave him time to discover Seattle. When he finally flew ‘home’ to England, he told Candace they were relocating.
After Jon left advertising for design consulting and Candace grew tired of standing in line for space at the Redmond Market, the idea of their own market was born. Ten year ago, Jon began the Market. Jon did a poll of Fremonsters in his newly adopted neighborhood. Favorable, if doubtful, reactions led him to open the Fremont Sunday Market in September of 1990. Thanks to a friend at a local paper, his first day saw about 60 vendors and 600 shoppers. The Still Life In Fremont Coffeehouse did record business, and Jon was astonished to realize, “I’ve become Eric!”
This summer the Market will once again host its, “small galaxy of people,” as Jon calls them. Around 120 vendors will sell their wares – crafts, vintage items and produce – and roughly 2,000 visitors will wander the Market, the shops and the restaurants that have flourished in the business district around it.
What would Fremont be without the Market? Maybe Chris Webb, owner of Real Soda, a local business, was overstating when he told me, “This neighborhood should get down on their hands and knees and thank Jon for his selfless efforts.” Still, can you imagine the Fremont Sunday Market in Ballard?
While I support community involvement and grassroots efforts to direct the future of our neighborhoods, recently such efforts nearly sent the Market out of Fremont.
Jon spent the winter finding a new, larger location. He secured agreement from the residents and businesses located along 35th Street, working with them to resolve their concerns. He went to the City for a permit to close the street.
Unfortunately, an area business owner, concerned about parking, opposed the permit. Others, concerned about competition, joined him. Would they be really have been happier, and more prosperous, if the Market went away? Do available parking spaces mean more customers, or less? I’m glad to say we may never know. Other business owners, and the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, rallied and convinced Jon to give the area another try.
The Market will be back this summer. Smaller, but still infinitely Fremont. The sidewalks will still teem with shoppers, vendors and funky items unlike those seen anywhere else in the Universe.
And I look forward to seeing the young couples come in my store. He carries the dog bed just purchased at Bark Natural Pet Care Store while she holds the large bouquet of fresh flowers from the Market and the brown bag stamped with the familiar Les Amis logo. Both are exhausted from their day spent shopping, laughing and exploring. Still, they want to pick up one more thing before heading home.
- Candace Reiter Plays With The Magic Pea
- by Kirby Lindsay, December 7, 2013
- The Fremont Sunday Market Legacy
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- Business Building At The Fremont Market
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- The Fremont Outdoor Movies Reaches Its Majority
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- ‘Tis The Season For Outdoor Dining
- by Kirby Lindsay, August 11, 2004 in The North Seattle Herald-Outlook
©2013 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.