To market, to market
The Multnomah Village Business Association will sponsor a pilot farmers' market this summer at the Multnomah Center
MULTNOMAH - The popular Hillsdale Farmers' Market will soon have a little sister in Multnomah Village.
The summertime market is set to begin Thursday, June 5, and will run every Thursday from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. until Sept. 25 at the Multnomah Center, 7688 S.W. Capitol Highway.
Tye Steinbach, who is spearheading the effort, said the idea had been kicked around for about 10 years, but only in the last few months had the right people all come to the table at once.
'The problem was never the concept; the problem was where to put the thing,' Steinbach said.
The location they settled on - the outdoor, covered basketball courts at the center - was helped along by the new executive director of the Multnomah Arts Center, Michael Walsh.
Walsh called it a 'win-win-win' in that it would benefit the Village businesses, the arts center and the local vendors, not to mention, he said, the planet.
'I think it's a real community builder, and I really believe in that,' Walsh said, adding, 'I'm very happy and a little surprised that we've gotten this far this quickly.'
Steinbach said the new director was a key piece in guiding the project through Portland Parks and Recreation's red tape.
The surface of the basketball courts was originally funded from a grant from Nike, who stipulated that the surface be prioritized for athletic use. The vendor booths, therefore, will be set up around the perimeter of the courts to avoid any possible damage they could cause to the surface. The market will rent the space for $200 per month.
The vendors are just some of the many things that the Hillsdale market will share with Multnomah. The approximately 20 food vendors will be managed by Hillsdale market General Manager Eamon Molloy, and organizers say they hope to also share some of the same customers.
The market will be the only Thursday market in west Portland, giving people a mid-week option to restock the refrigerator. The timeslot was meant to be as far away from Hillsdale's Sunday market to avoid any sense of competition.
'It really has always been designed to be complementary to (the Hillsdale market),' Steinbach said.
Josh Kadish, director of the Hillsdale market, agreed that competition would not be an issue.
'We're not suffering from a lack of customers,' Kadish said. 'There's just this huge demand for farm market goods.'
But he cautioned that markets can be tricky to keep going.
'They're not no-brainers,' he said. 'They need to be run directly.'
This is a large part of why the Multnomah Village Business Association, which is backing the market with a $3,000 loan and other support, decided to try out the idea for just a few hours every week during the peak growing season.
Steinbach, a past president of the Multnomah Village Business Association and owner of Thinker Toys, said he believes the market will be very popular, but there remain a few kinks to be worked out.
Walsh agreed: 'We'll be figuring it out week to week, but I think it's going to be pretty good.'