Farmers eager to see new retail option succeed in Spokane
By MATTHEW WEAVER
SPOKANE -- Farmer Kevin Tunison looked around the new Spokane Public Market and declared he was "hot to trot" about it.
Tunison, of Many Rock Farm in Spokane, is one of many producers who hope to see the market, which opened June 2, grow.
"If it's going to be year-round, that would be good for the public and me," said Tunison, who sells fresh pork, chicken and lamb.
Offerings the first day ranged from asparagus, onions and morel mushrooms to honey and dried apple products.
Vendors touted the ability to sell produce year-round and indoors.
Roger Stanley of Magaña Farms in Sunnyside, Wash., said the market has great potential.
"You could put a miniature Pike Place Market in here," he said, citing a common comparison with the Seattle tourist attraction. "That's a venue for tourism. This could be -- there's enough room in this place to really put on a show."
Jason Sweat, of World Famous Apple Chips of Omak, Wash., also sells dried apples and other fruits and vegetables at the Seattle market.
"There's not as many people in Spokane as there is in the Seattle area, but compared to the populations, this is going to be just as good," Sweat said.
John Elithorp, of Elithorp Farms in Deer Park, Wash., said the market is another outlet for his produce. He primarily sells at weekend markets, but was looking for one during the week and will sell on Thursdays.
"I'd like it to be successful, but we'll see," Elithorp said.
Kay Stoltz, president of the public market board, said the endeavor was four years in the making.
"This is a dream come true -- it's my passion," she said, noting the market's influence on agriculture will be "tremendous." Many vendors have expanded to suit the year-round market.
There are 55 vendors for the market, Stoltz said. The intent is to have 75 percent farmers and 25 percent artisans.
Farmers can still contact the market, Stoltz said.
The market is seeking further funding, Stoltz said, noting $400,000 is needed. The board hopes to purchase the building, at 24 W. Second Ave., within three years.
The market was originally slated to open in May, but was delayed by street construction.
Tunison plans to continue with other area farmers' markets until he sees if the new market succeeds. He hopes for success for himself, and the rest of the vendors.
"Without everybody in here, this won't go," he said. "If all the farmers come with their wares, I think it will go good."
Spokane Public Market: www.spokanepublicmarket.org