Back in March, the new downtown market had no commitments from vendors. Now, on the eve of opening, 38 vendors have signed up to sell, educate and cook their wares.
It all stemmed from the roster of calls market manager Kathleen Rose began making months ago. Up early in the morning and working the day through, Rose slowly built the roster.
“I probably made 500 phone calls,” she said.
The mission of the market is what attracted vendors, Rose said. The nonprofit market aims to connect food producers with citizens; there are no craft vendors at the market.
What will be at the market are farmers, producers and restaurant tables. The roster ranges from granola to pickles to shellfish to produce. Hot Diggity Dog, Devoted Kiss and Brix 25 will host hot food tables.
Taylor Shellfish signed up for the market because it believed in the farm-to-table mission, said Erin Ewald, Taylor’s environmental compliance manager.
Taylor will be selling shellfish products, but also wants to use the market as a chance to engage customers.
Not all vendors will be at all the markets because some items, such as lavender, are seasonal.
Vendors paid a $20 fee for a space at the market, but will get to keep 100 percent of their profits.
It’s hard to tell what the market will be like in its inaugural year, but Rose has high hopes for the future. With the market’s pairing of agriculture and education, she believes it will stand out in the crowd.
“I really anticipate that this will be one of those markets that people seek out,” Rose said.
Rose contacted the Washington State Farmers Market Association for an estimate on the draw of the market. For a market of similar size, 1,500 people attend.
There are variables in that number, Rose said, because the Waterfront Farmers Market runs in the late afternoon and is tied to the Thursday Night Out event.
“We want to enhance the downtown waterfront district and not compete (with merchants),” she said.
That’s why the market won’t be featuring craft vendors. The goal for the market, run by the Downtown Waterfront Alliance, is to boost the vitality of downtown.
Rose is active in the food community; and owner of Rose Orchards and a producer with a local co-op. Her produce will sell as part of a co-op vendor.
The Waterfront Farmers Market will debut Thursday (June 4) and will run from 3 to 7 p.m. every Thursday through Sept. 24. Booths will be located at Skansie Park in downtown Gig Harbor.
Leading up to the market’s opening, Rose has been posting short biographies of different vendors on the market’s Facebook page, Waterfront Farmers Market.