Closing of public market disappoints vendors

SNOHOMISH — The Washington Public Market and Wine Cellars of Washington opened last November with great fanfare, attracting more than 5,000 people on the first weekend.

It didn’t last.

The market announced this week that it was shutting down immediately.

“We gave it a beautiful try,” owner Scott Swoboda said. “If we could just break even we would continue, but we are not even close to that.”

The market was a two-story open building at 1011 Second St., with booths inside for individual vendors to sell wine, crafts and other goods. Wine-tasting rooms were on the upper floor.

Alex Trevino, who sold canes, peace pipes and walking sticks at his shop, Awakening Thoughts, until he left the market in April*, believes closing the market now was premature.

“You don’t bail before your busiest time,” Trevino said. “We were all taking a chance. We were committed to take this venue off the ground.”

Swoboda said the number of people who visited the market dropped after the first two weekends in November. The money from the business wasn’t paying for the employees or utilities and he had to cover the rest of the expenses, such as taxes and insurance, with his own savings.

Swoboda estimates he was losing between $10,000 and $15,000 every month.

When the market opened, there were 25 wineries and 150 vendors and. At the end, there were only 11 wineries and 39 vendors using the building.

Swoboda, who owns the building, plans to use it for special occasions including concerts and wedding receptions.

On Friday, some vendors were at the public market taking down their booths and cleaning up.

For some vendors, the decision to close down was premature because they expected sales to go up this summer.

Trevino stopped renting space a couple of weeks ago. He was picking up art Friday he had left behind. He invested about $1,000 in his business and didn’t see any revenue.

Beth Glass expected four customers to pick up orders from her shop, Eclectic Treasures, which sells recycled garden art and accessories.

Shutting down just before Mother’s Day was especially hard for her, she said, because it is her second busiest holiday besides Christmas.

“All these people are displaced,” Glass said about her fellow vendors. “It just makes me want to cry.”

Jill Hatcher, of Past and Present Photos, said she understands Swoboda’s decision. Although the market is closing, it was a good experience, and she plans to continue her business from home.

“I made a lot of contacts I never would have met. I learned a lot,” she said.

The closing of the wine cellars delays plans Snohomish has for becoming a haven for wineries and distilleries, but the city still has two wineries open within city limits, economic development manager Debbie Emge said.

“We are disappointed to see the business closed. The city is still committed to create wine tasting rooms and attract wineries trying to find a good venue,” Emge said.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.

* The original version of this story did not mention that Trevino left the market in April.

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