EVERETT — Who wore it better, the Port of Everett or downtown Everett?
The Everett Farmers Market took a turn at both locations this year, and the season-ending results are in — downtown took the cake.
“For me, this was a terrific move,” said Rick Wright, the owner of Whistle Stop Kettle Corn and a market vendor for 11 years.
“There’s more room for everyone,” said Wright, who was setting up a booth early Sunday along Wetmore Avenue.
Sunday marked the season-ender, the final market day of the year. The farmers market is expected to return to downtown Everett in May.
The co-owner of Blue Stilly Coffee Roasters, Rick MacDonald, also gave the downtown site a thumbs-up.
“People don’t have to drive here. Foot traffic is up. It’s ADA-compliant,” said MacDonald. His list of pluses echoed that of other vendors.
After three and a half seasons at the port, the outdoor market relocated mid-season to Wetmore Avenue, which temporarily closed traffic Sundays between Hewitt Avenue and Wall Street.
The crosstown move was the result of tension between the port and vendors over a new $2 parking fee.
The port said the fee was needed to manage an onslaught of cars. Vendors said the charge was turning away customers.
Given a choice between paying $2,000 for parking management or relocating, market owners broke camp and moved upland.
“It has more of a market feel,” said Livi Aley, a Marysville hula-hoop maker and owner of Livi Joy Hoops.
Angel Magana was one of the few vendors who didn’t express a preference.
“Sales have been about the same,” said Magana, whose family runs the Magana Farm booth and the farm in Sunnyside, near Yakima.
It was difficult finding anyone — vendors or shoppers — who didn’t have good things to say about the new downtown location.
Stephen Sibborn misses the port’s marine view but prefers the Wetmore Avenue location.
“It’s clean. It’s not dusty,” said Sibborn, shopping with his wife, Tawni Dillon.
“The change has been really good,” said Gary Purves, co-owner and manager of the Everett Farmers Market.
“The port was more a destination. This is better location for people with strollers and wheelchairs,” Purves said.
City officials plan to meet next week with farmers market owners to plan for the 2020 season, city spokesman Julio Cortes said.
“We want to learn what went well and what needs work to ensure a successful 2020 farmers market for the City of Everett. At this point we feel confident the market will stay downtown as it received very positive feedback from the community,” Cortes said in an email.
“This location gave me a pay raise. My sales are up 30%,” Deborah Rolfsness said.
The former RV-saleswoman-turned-artist paints cheery vacation scapes, trailers and RVs, and sells the canvases at her booth, Deborah’s Trailer Trash.
Area businesses — at least the ones that are open Sunday — also welcomed the market, for some different reasons.
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While it didn’t affect business one way or the other, “it’s been a great thing for getting people to come to downtown on Sundays,” said Maxwell Mooney, owner of Narrative Coffee at 2927 Wetmore Ave., directly fronting the market area.
“From a raw business owner perspective, I’m ambivalent about (the market) returning to this spot next year as it doesn’t have an effect on my business’ revenue in any real way. But as a person who loves downtown Everett and believes so strongly in this community, I really, really hope they come back to this location next year,” Mooney said.
Farther north, near the Funko headquarters, Amelia Bazan said the market livened up the Sunday crowd at Karl’s Bakery and Cafe at 2814 Wetmore Ave.
The pebbled surface at the port location made it hard for some shoppers to navigate the market.
“I’m getting old and it’s easier to walk on concrete than gravel,” Fred Stephenson said.
Said Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin: “I think we all enjoyed having the farmers market in downtown Everett and I am already looking forward to next year.”
Franklin in an email thanked the Port of Everett, the farmers market and the community for helping make the market a success.
An estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people attend the weekly market. Each week 100 or so booths sell fresh vegetables and fruits, baked goods and other prepared foods, and crafts. About 200 vendors participate in the event over the course of a season.
Janice Podsada; email@example.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods.
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