“Its good to see members of the community that have not been in here for a while,” said Market Manager Carol Dunsmoor.
Dunsmoor, involved from the beginning, can tell you of the history of the Public Market from its growth out of a vacant lot started by a few women who had an idea at something bigger.
“The Market was started by three women who use to set up sale stalls at the Fifth Street Park,” Dunsmoor said. “They sold there from about 1993-1996.”
Working with city employees the group started working on grants to start a covered farmers market at the location of the old South Bend Rail Station.
“Some of the things that we tried to do, we were not successful at in the beginning,' Dunsmoor said. “But with the help of Rebecca Chaffee, we were able to get the correct grants and open this current Public Market in 1996.”
At the same time the Waterfront Development Group was putting together enhancements for the community, the Public Market helped create another place for people to get fresh fruits and vegetables.
“We started with a lot of the same things we have today,” Dunsmoor said. “Vegetables, arts and crafts things.”
The initial opening of the market came complete with bare interior walls, a leaky roof and no heating system.
“As we continued we got all of those things fixed, it is really nice now,” Dunsmoor said.
As the Market grew with time so have the vendors that have come and gone. Starting with just a few, the list has grown to just over 50 in and out during the year.
“There are more vendors selling in here than you can see right now,” Dunsmoor said. “Some have seasonal items like for Christmas, or summer items.”
And with what looks like a full Market, Dunsmoor advises that there is always room for more.
“We can make room, we always do,” Dunsmoor said. “If anyone is interested in having their items in here for sale, all they need to do is stop in when we are open.”
Working primarily two days a week, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am – 4 pm, Dunsmoor admits that they use to be open more. “There was a time we were open four days a week. But after 9-11, things started to drop off a little bit. But if there is an activity in town, like the parade, or a special event, we will most likely be open for that day as well.”
What started as fruits and vegetables with some art has grown into a variety of items that are great for everyday use, gifts, or just nice to have. Vendors and artists, who have a place in the Market, are sometimes there, working during the time that the Market is open. And if a vendor is not there and you still wish to purchase an item, one of the friendly “friends” of the Market will help you out.
“We have plenty of fundraiser items as well, like the books we sell,” Dunsmoor said. “All the proceeds go right back into the Market, we are a not-for-profit group.”
Dunsmoor additionally points out the double row of nuts on display by the Willapa River Lions Club, the post cards, or cookbooks. “We are working on a bottle collect for our next fundraiser item. We have collected a few colored bottles and will be selling them as well.”
But not everything is for sale in the Market, sprinkled between the textile rugs, and knit caps, the baby items and the photography, collectable décor is present all around and brings an alluring style to the Market. “Most of the things are from my collection, things from my parents and the old Dunsmoor Drugs store.”
Many other home decorator items are for sale from re-purposed items, to one of a kind cutting boards, wooden toys and jewelry. There is fused glass, teddy bears, spices and flavored vinegars. “This, we are low on, and this one two.”
Dunsmoor walks the Market and points out some of the items that are hard to keep on the self. “The hand made soap goes quick, and the smoked oysters. We have small polished rocks and sea shells as well, the kids love these.”
With different items coming in all the time, Dunsmoor thinks it wise for people to stop in periodically just to see what is new. “We love to see the local community dropping in to see how we are changing and love that we can support the local economy.”
You can also check out the Public Market on the Willapa Facebook and keep posted on special event days or features that they are running.