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Poulsbo Farmers Market seeks permanent site

POULSBO — Nearly 10 years ago, the Poulsbo Farmers Market planted a seed. That seed has now grown and sprouted quite a following of vendors and customers who visit the market each week.

Officials with the market now say it is time for the organization to branch out.

“We really have something now,” said Terry Burns with the Poulsbo Farmers Market. “I’m excited as hell about it.”

Burns, along with market president Paula Strid, spoke with the city of Poulsbo’s Economic Development Commission Wednesday about the market’s aims to move away from the parking lot where it currently operates, and establish a permanent site.

Burns seeks a partnership between the market and agencies such as the city or the Port of Poulsbo to help a permanent market take root somewhere in the city.

Burns referenced market facilities, such as Pike Place Market.

Councilman David Musgrove expressed enthusiasm at the economic development meeting, but said the market needs to put together a business plan with some numbers to take the idea further.

“We need to take it from the great idea stage to ‘Show me the numbers,’” Musgrove said.

Mayor Becky Erickson and Councilman Ed Stern echoed Musgrove.

“We need a game plan and to see how other people have done this,” Erickson said.

Poulsbo Port Comm-issioner Jim Rutledge was also present at the meeting to show his support of the market. He said the port commission has discussed the idea in the past but has not made any decisions. Rutledge said he will float the idea with the commission.

“I think overall the aims of the farmers market align with that of the port and the city — as a business incubator and driver of economy”

Farmers market officials have only brought the notion as far as the idea stage. Where it will land has yet to be determined.

One possible outcome could be a downtown location. Another idea that garnered considerable talk during Wednesday’s meeting was placing the market on Viking Avenue, an area struggling economically. City officials have long sought a solution to Viking Avenue’s uphill economic battle.

If the market can find a location on Viking Avenue, other businesses could grow around it, Burns said.

Ultimately, a permanent market could help the farming economy already growing in the region.

“The buzz word in the future will be ‘local’ and ‘eating local,’ ” Burns said. “We can really help out our community here. We just need a permanent location.”

He added, “We have working farms now in the area. People are making a living farming here.”

Burns noted that the market has seen sales of up to $20,000 during the four hours it is open on Saturdays.

In the past four years, the market has shown a 16 percent increase in average annual sales. Average weekly sales in 2012 were $10,744, with annual sales of $386,801, while customer spending increased 20 percent. Weekly vendor sales in 2012 also went up by 7 percent.

The market is attracting customers in excess of 1,000 people each week and currently projects $462,000 in annual sales for 2013.

Burns would like to construct something similar to markets in Bellingham or Olympia in Poulsbo.

He said he preferred a permanent structure for the market to operate within, and that he envisions the market being a tenant of the site, not a land owner.

“I see the farmers market as being an anchor tenant of the building,” Burns said. “We use it during the weekend and then other days, people can use it for other things.

“I’d like to see a 5,000-square-foot building that is enclosed.”

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