Public Market to end Granary District run April 27
Manager Shannon Thorson said she’d rather not discuss the reasons for the parting of ways. “There is a chance the best thing to do is close the market,” she said, but she’s trying her best to avoid that eventuality.
“We’re developing various contingency plans,” she said. “It could be we relocate someplace temporarily, or close down and reassess our business model.”
Thorson announced in a “Save the Big White Barn” Facebook post that she was considering property with an old barn on it at the intersection of Lafayette Avenue and Riverside Drive.
But owner Mike Lambert said he’s planning to demolish the dilapidated structure, which is totally rotted out, and construct a new building on the high-traffic site. He said he already has tenants committed to three of the four spaces he’s planning to create.
Lambert published a paid legal notice Feb. 5, offering the barn to anyone willing to move it off the property. When he got no takers, he began planning for its demolition.
He said it’s only about a third the size of the 8,000-square-foot facility the market has been leasing in the Granary District, and has no parking. Given that, he said, he didn’t see how it could possibly work for the market.
“I don’t have plans to sell it, but if they had a check, I would consider it,” he said.
Thorson said she recognizes he owns the property and can proceed as he pleases. She also expressed sympathy for the position she put him in when she posted an appeal to the public to help save the structure and turn it into a new home for the market.
But she said she is still holding out hope she can persuade Lambert to change his plans.
Thorson said she is personally tapped out for investment dollars.
She’d like to find a private investor willing to purchase the property, then carry out initial repairs on the building at a cost she’s estimating at $80,000. She said the market would seek to purchase the building on contract from the investor.
“We’ve got a basic sense that tells us that would be a very feasible site,” Thorson said.
Thorson said that’s not the only option, though.
“There are a number of Plan B, C and Ds in terms of where we might relocate,” she said. “At this point, we’re keeping it under wraps.
“It might be seamless, or we might close for a period of time. We’ll do what we think is best for the market.”
The market has attracted about 50 vendors for its Saturday operations. They have offered fresh produce, local art, craft goods and boutique food items like hummus, salsa and olive oil, among other things.
Thorson said most have been contracting for space on a week-to-week basis, but some have signed leases, including The Soup Shack, The Garden Shed and Shaggy Showers Dog Wash. They can stay for now, she said, and choose later whether to remain in the Granary District or move with the market when it finds a new location.
“I think everything happens for a reason,” she said. “We’re going to come out better in the end.”
She’s been working with Jody Christensen of the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership to evaluate the market’s business model in a strategic way, she said, and is hoping that will bear fruit. If not, she will have to shut the doors.
“We fully support her finding a model that fits the long-term sustainability of a public market in McMinnville,” said Kelly McDonald, managing partner in the Granary District development.
“We’ve continued to work with her and the timing of her move. We’re trying to do this in a manner that supports the market, as well as the positive venue that we’ve created in the Granary District.”
McDonald commended Thorson for what’s she’s done to develop the concept.
“It’s a beautiful market,” he said. “She’s done a fantastic job. I wish her the best.”
McDonald said he and his partners are planning to remodel one part of the building. He said they had been planning to work around the market, so as to avoid disruption, but apparently that won’t be necessary now.
“We’re now in a position to revise our vision for the building,” he said. “We have things in the works.
“We’re not going to lose momentum. This is going to be a place for the community to enjoy.”