Downtown stroll in Sweet Home results in Community Market

By Benny Westcott
Of The New Era/Lebanon Local

Sweet Home City Manager Kelcey Young was downtown on a recent Saturday when she noticed a small problem: Most of the shops were closed.

That didn’t sit well with her.

“I feel like Sweet Home is such a wonderful place, and that it would be a great place to be able to go shopping on Saturday,” she said.

So she hatched a plan. What about a city-run Saturday Market? Unfortunately, the city of Eugene had already trademarked the name. Undeterred, Young pitched the same concept, this time as a “Community Market,” giving locals opportunities to shop on weekends and allow regional businesses to sell their wares.

The city put out some feelers on the idea and got a “great response from the community that they would be very interested in both shopping and being vendors,” Young said.

And now it’s time to get the ball rolling.

The Community Market opens Saturday, May 20, in the parking lot across the street from the Sweet Home Public Library, 1101 13th Avenue. It runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday through the summer, with the exception of the Sportsman’s Holiday and Jamboree weekends. Vendors can sign up for free, and space at the market is open to everyone.

“As long as it’s legal and family-friendly, if you want a table, you can have one,” she said. “I hope that it draws traffic into Sweet Home and gives entrepreneurs, budding businesses, crafters and artisans an opportunity to sell their items. And we just hope that it’s another way to let people know how amazing Sweet Home is.”

She also hoped it would draw tourism, but said, “Even if it’s just for our community, that’s also great.”

According to Young, 24 vendors had signed up for the Community Market’s first day.

“It was a pretty great turnout to just get started with,” she said, adding that most vendors, primarily from Sweet Home, will offer crafts, handmade goods and snacks.

She added that the city doesn’t want to overmanage the event.

“We’re pretty relaxed about the whole thing,” Young said. “We just want people there.”

The Community Market occupies an area of the downtown core that has become more inviting since a homeless shelter in the nearby parking lot of the former City Hall was cleared out, thanks to the opening in January of the Family Assistance and Resource Center’s managed outreach and community resource facility east of Bi-Mart.

“We’ve cleaned up the old City Hall area,” Young said. “Our library is open on Saturdays, and we liked the idea of starting to bring people back into that area, and just breathing some new life into that area.”

She said the city hopes to begin remodeling the old City Hall in the next year or two, “so we felt like this was a good start.”