Weekend Market in Mac

October 2009

By Yvette Saarinen

The Market in McMinnville’s Granary District is much more than a market. It’s a business incubator.

While organizers were ecstatic with a Sept. 12 trial-run, they have their sights on a more long-term goal: growing businesses.

Market Manager Shannon Thorson said the Granary District partners have been working with McMinnville Economic Development Partnership, Chemeketa Community College and McMinnville High School to create an environment for the launch of small businesses.

They have been mulling over the idea of a marketplace and business launching pad for several years, she said.

Kelly McDonald, Granary District Properties managing partner, and partners Ron Reubin, Nick Ostroff, Nigel and Connie Buxton, Skip Armstrong, Jan Daggett and Michael Garrigan, knew they had the perfect site on Northeast Fifth Street. It’s a five-acre former industrial center that is only two blocks from McMinnville’s popular downtown historic district.

McDonald extensively renovated the buildings, saving historic features where he could and taking on new tenants such as the winery R. Stuart & Co., other wineries and the day spa, Urban Bliss.

The recent loss of an anchor tenant, Betty Lou’s Smackers, which opted to buy its own facility in McMinnville, was a blow to the Granary District Properties and a few months ago they decided to pull the trigger on the market idea.

Of course, revenue was a consideration, but the long-term vision was to help businesses get started. They worked an agreement with John Mead of Cellar Ridge Custom Homes, who quickly built a shell inside a 15,000-square-foot former warehouse to house the indoor venue at the market. It all started with sketches on a cocktail napkin, he said, and was built using mostly reclaimed materials.

For $200 a month, vendors can rent a 10-by-10-foot permanent storefront, designed to reflect their brand, in the warehouse. They will be able to choose their location and leave products there, Thorson said.

It’s an old-fashioned idea—growing a business—that’s resurfacing in the wake of recent get-rich-quick scandals that have rocked the business world.

Instead of mortgaging everything and maxing out credit cards, entrepreneurs can start small, develop a sense of demographics and create a business plan, Thorson said.

Instead of shooting for the stars and hoping for the best, it’s the way businesses used to grow—based on demand, she said. It’s developing a business responsively instead of speculatively.

Businesses will have a real site on the market’s webpage. “It’s going to be fantastic,” she said.

If the debut on Sept. 12 is any indication, Thorson is right.

It was a sunny day and a steady stream of people went through the gate between R. Stuart & Co. and Buchanan-Cellers Valley Feed Supply off Fifth Street. There was a crowd waiting to get in when the market opened at 11 a.m., and it wasn’t until late in the afternoon that at least 100 people weren’t milling about, listening to live music, sipping wine and checking out the vendors before the 7 p.m. closing.

Thorson has recruited 50 vendors who were selling everything from handmade baskets, beauty products, olive trees, fresh produce, sandwiches, beer and wine, to artwork and arts and crafts.

“We knew there was an interest but are pleasantly surprised to see just how much interest exists,” Thorson said.

Visitors were able to sit in the shade from the indoor venue building while they sipped spirits and listened to live music provided by the Jam Band and Bodacious.

Thorson said the organizers are now planning a weekly Saturday version of The Market to begin Nov. 14. They are taking an October break in order to accommodate the district’s winemaking tenants who will be up to their elbows in work during the grape crush in October.

The Market will offer more food vendors and more seating, leading items listed on visitor comment cards, Thorson said.

The Market

Location: Granary District
Address: 845 N.E. Fifth St., McMinnville
Date: Nov. 14 (Grand Opening)
Time: 9 a.m.–3 p.m.

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