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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Saturday Market: Save it, move it, kill it?

The folks down at the Portland Saturday Market who don't want to move inform me that those madcap rascals of the Portland Development Commission, and their consultants, want some public comment on the plan to force the market out of the only home it's ever known. The proposed relocation, which some fear would spell the end of the quirky craftsfest, would make way for a condo tower-centered development (just what Portland needs) with a much slicker, more conventional all-week market of some kind attached. (No doubt to be run by some Whole Foods or Zupan type, fresh up from L.A., on tax-free premises.)

The PDC and their consultants will take public comment this evening from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Portland Building, Room C; and in the Food Court at the Saturday Market itself this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

The PDC bureaucrats say they're all ears, but it doesn't look to me like they're thinking elephant ears. In typical Orwellian fashion, they're calling this the "Saturday Market Permanent Home Open House." Excuse me, PDC underachievers, but the current location, now 28 years old, could be permanent, if you'd just let Portland be Portland and get some therapy for your severe condo fetish.

So let 'em hear it, kids. But you might want to stock up on your soap and crystals pretty soon while you've still got the chance.

Comments (31)

No doubt to be run by some Whole Foods or Zupan type, fresh up from L.A.

Or, this.

Of course, it's pretty much irrelevant anyway if the fire station doesn't move due to already-surfacing rises in the cost estimates for the new one.

Hi, b!X:

Nice brochure, but I'd believe it when I saw it. There was supposed to be a large modern supermarket in the condo box at NE 16th and Broadway, too, not to mention a diverse collection of retailers we were going to get in the "luxury" apartment box at NE MLK and Multnomah. Guess what? They never showed.

It's the same deal with the Fire Station and Saturday Market. It's all supposed to be the next Barcelona or whatever, but what it's really about is the condos, which is the only thing we're guaranteed to get.

From what I remember reading, Ron Paul's been the chief proponent of the all-week foods market for some time now, and I'm betting he'd be the guy to run it once it sees the light of day.

I do think it's a great idea, and I have to admit that the location makes sense as well. What I don't like? The condo part, of course, and the fact that they're trying to push Saturday Market out to accomplish their aims.

If memory serves, something like this has happened before when the City attempted to move the old open air market which was located at about 4th and Yamhill - Morrison. They tried to move it across the river and promptly killed it. Happened during the 1960's or maybe even earlier, I think. Just a little before my time.

quirky craftsfest

had to giggle when I read that, then read it again. Though it said something else entirely...

Bog: doesn't really seem fair to compare the retail potential of 1620 Broadway and The Merrick with the Saturday Market site. That 1620 building has been cursed.

Honestly, have you been to Saturday Market lately? It's pretty unpleasant, and that's even after they spend beaucoup bucks every week to clean it up the Friday before. My understanding is that despite its 28 year history, the market loses money (therefore requiring city subsidy anyway), and doesn't work well from the retailers perspective. Given the incredible growth and interest in the Farmer's Market in the South Park Blocks, I'd say one of these markets is on the rise and the other is on the wane.

Everyday produce doesn't seem to work in downtown Portland. It didn't work for long at Yamhill Marketplace, nor across the street from Yamhill. The last decent produce operation I remember down there was a funky bombed-out stand at SW Fifth and Yamhill, where Vera has her Saks now. I believe Fred Meyer ran it. Long since "developed" out of existence.

My point about 16th and Broadway was that this move is really all about the condo tower that they want to put where the fire station is. That's the real given. Everything else, including the wonderful new market, is a qualified maybe, and the PDC has come up way short on delivering in that department.

Re: the new condo building at 16th & Broadway. According to a friend of mine in the real estate field, the place leaks like a sieve.

Re: the new condo building at 16th & Broadway. According to a friend of mine in the real estate field, the place leaks like a sieve.

It's also ugly as sin. I mean, say what you will about the condo/retail buildings at 34th and Hawthorne and 35th and Belmont, but at least they look different and distinctive. The 1620 looks like slightly gussied-up "stack-a-prol" architecture you might have found in Romania in 1978.

There were several fresh produce "farmers" markets downtown until the mid-seventies, on 4th between Yamhill and Taylor, and on fifth and Yamhill. Truck farmers would make stands on deserted downtown corners spontaniously. There were more people living downtown back then too - but most were poor or on fixed incomes, not affluent and looking for a six dollar tomato.

The market at PSU is packed. PACKED. With the affluent types. So are the other markets, Holliday Park, Beaverton, Vancouver. Vendors are great, making money and providing great product at great prices. Can't be beat.

Saturday Market, under the bridge (in a lot owned by Naito?), seems stuck in a bad pre-xmas frenzy moment, rainsoaked, cheap, and filled with suburban tourists who inevitably leave their sick children behind to score dope.

What would make Saturday Market more fun is if the board would contract with the local SCA to manage the effort, put together a dress code, and police the rabble. See

What would make Saturday Market more fun is if the board would contract with the local SCA to manage the effort, put together a dress code, and police the rabble.

That is not part of the developers' strategy, with which the city wittingly or unwittingly cooperates: Let it go to pot and knock it down for condos.

What I don't get ... why would the market give up its current location even if a condo tower goes up over the firehouse? Saturday Market is under a bridge, f'rcryin'outloud. Worst case scenario: if the public market is built, the food court gets displaced to Ankeny Plaza, and Saturday Market wraps around the public market building. Just like it wraps around the Skidmore Market building right now.

I find it a little hard to believe the market is losing money because of poor business, since every time I visit the market (at least once a month), the place is bustling and it's hard to find a seat at the food court.

Seriously -- what's the problem here? How does Saturday Market get in the way of any proposed development at its current site?

saturday market has existed where it does because the space beneath the bridge has always been leftover space - certainly whatever development comes there will still be leftover space - give the market that space, or make it as part of the openspace. every great eurpean city (and bad ones) have public markets. not sure how they are run (i.e. subsidized by government), but what i do know is they make a neighborhood. a place to get an espresso and people watch, a place to get a fresh bag of veggies, cut of meat, or flowers on your way home from work. the market should not be a victim, but the market alone needs to be seen as a cultural amenity - if the city blows this, then they have taken 10 steps backwards. BARCELONA has a market in EVERY neighborhood - and it works. who are we kidding - portland is nothing like barcelona!!

it takes density to make a market viable, and portland is not there in every neighborhood. in the meantime though a market has to be carefully placed to either harness the energy of a given area, or create synergy in an area needing it.

forget whole foods and zupans they are just captilist machines dressed up and they do not provide the cultural amenity a market provides.

Who's going to be in that market on weekdays? Tourists and people who work downtown. And unless they're within walking distance, they'll have to take MAX to and from. A recipe for commercial success? I doubt it.

The other problem with a European-style open air, year round market right there is that, quite honestly, that area has a pretty bad reputation as home to a ton of Portland's "free range" mentally disturbed and homeless folks.

I'm not in the "kick 'em out and make 'em go somewhere else" school when it comes to homelessness, but neither do I think that the current site can be a viable tourist draw with the current homeless population. Saturday Market can because it has a gritty feel to it, but a more upscale, urbane kind of experience? I'm skeptical.

the market MUST be where people live if the european model is appropriate. the tourist component is something different. maybe we need to make a distinction between the two. the crafty part can be the tourist part for the weekends, but i think portland could benefit from a strong produce type market - pair it up with your favorite thing - condo's - but more importantly pair it with residential - specifically not where it is today.

I could think of much more residential sites for a produce market than under the west end of Burnside Bridge. Somewhere up around Portland State being one... oops, too late, all the available land is in condo towers...

Everyday produce doesn't seem to work in downtown Portland. It didn't work for long at Yamhill Marketplace...The last decent produce operation I remember down there was a funky bombed-out stand at SW Fifth and Yamhill...

I'm always amazed that the original City-funded "Public Market" never gets mentioned.

Back in 1933, despite overwhelming opposition (18,000 Portlanders signed a petition against the market, along with 246 farmers) a Public Market was built on Front. It was a disaster. It never had enough tenants, it hurt the produce folks on Yamhill, largely forced to move from where they had been successful. Eventually it was sold to the Oregon Journal...then the City bought it back, eventually demolishing it. As E. Kimbark MacColl writes in The Growtrh of a City: "Excluding the adverse impact on the riverfront itself, the market building together with the consequent destruction of the old Yamhill Portland Market launched a series of events that led to the demise of public markets generally."

I love Public Markets. But does Portland need one now? The Paris model is one of markets in one neighborhood one day, another neighborhood the next. Seems to work, and is sorta like what we've got. We've also New Seasons, People's, et al. What problem are we trying to solve here?

Back in the 1930s the issue was less about a public market then about profiting from real estate deals. Today's debate sounds awfully familiar.

My memory is that Saturday Market wasn't always smack dab under the Burnside Bridge. It operated a couple of blocks away for several years in the early to mid 70s. Getting it under the bridge was a major improvement on rainy days. That's what I remember anyway.

When Ron Paul first started pushing the public market idea, as Charlie Hales aide, there was discussion of three possible sites, the old fire station being one. I think the U.S. Customs House, which seems like an odd place for a market, was another. And a third was across the river, around the old Grand Central Bowl area.

As an eastsider, that last one made some sense to me because the old Italian produce wholesalers operated there, so there was some history. Also, there's a huge amount of people living in the neighborhoods just east of there.

My feeling, though, is that if they are going to do a public market, it should be under the I-5 freeway at around Salmon St., which is right off the Bike Esplanade. Thus bike/pedstrian path got about $30 million in federal funds earmarked for transporation and critics have noted that it still is not that big a transportation corridor (though as a biker, I have used it quite a bit as kind of a bike freeway). Put a public marke there and it will become a destination. There also is plenty of parking on big lots to east of the esplanade. so you can bike or drive there. No public transit, yet, except for the No. 14.

The way I see it, build a public market in the ramshackle manner of Pike Street as a permanent market, but open up outdoor space on weekends to the kind of ethnically and culturally diverse flea market that they have in San Jose.

I have to admit I haven't been to Saturday Market in years, largely because there is nothing new there. I would love to see a big food market, because Oregon is a big food region, but if it's done on the west side, it's going to be something only Martha Stewart could love.

Why not put the market in the Pearl?

High density - lots of nearby people. Good transit with the streetcar to bring lots of well to do customers from all over town.

Put it in Jamison park or in the street on the South edge of Jamison. A great opperunity to close an un-needed street for a beter use and it will be between the two streetcar streets - how much better can it get?

No need to build any new, tax freeloading condos, there are already lots of them there.


I remember a time when the Oregon Symphony was loosing money, did we GET RID OF IT? No. How about PGE PARK? Plenty of businesses loose money at some point. The Saturday Market is a fixture that has survived for 30 years. There are new vendors every week (the place thins out a bit during winter months). Americans are so conditioned to Wal Mart crap and K-Mart pricing that they fail to appreciate locally handcrafted items whether it be a bar of soap , a blown glass vase, or a handknitted hat. I have been a vendor for 5 years now and actually make a living doing something that I love. Every wholesale account that I have has been from a contact at the market. When you badmouth the Market and say "GET RID OF IT", you are basically telling me and a couple hundred other vendors that you hope we loose our jobs. I am a taxpayer that puts thousands of dollars back into the community. I try to "buy locally" whenever possible. We certainly do not have a lack of customers. Several thousand people come down every weekend. We have proven to be a success year after year. The ANKENY STREET MARKET, which is across from the SATURDAY MARKET creates much of the confusion. Most people do not realize that they are actually two totally separate entities. Everything at the Saturday Market must be handcrafted by the vendor. No imports are allowed. The ANKENY STREET MARKET is an import market. Yes, there may be a certain undesirable element in the area but whose fault is this? Well, the city doesn,t seem too interested in cleaning up the area. Look at poor China Town,,,most of these businesses have migrated to the east side. DUH!! Could it be that this is exactly what they want so that they can put up a couple more condos? Please think about all of the people down at the Market who are making a living, supporting families, saving for college, putting kids through school etc, before you make nasty comments.

There seem to be some misconceptions about the Portland Saturday Market. No one, except the vendors, pay for the costs of running the market. And as for "nothing new there" this is absolutely untrue. You can buy anything from kid's clothing, to rice paper lamps, to kitchen utensils (the list goes on!) and it's all handmade by the person selling in the booth. There are approximately 400 small businesses operating this market 10 months a year. They bring in over a million visitors a year, and combined make over 10 million dollars a year. Obviously some people are having a pleasant experience. They team up with OMSI, The Park and Rec department, Tears of Joy Puppet theatre (to name a few) so Portland's kids can have some fun, free activites. Local bands have a venue to play in and grass root groups have a place to preach their missions. There is something for everyone, rich, middle class and poor alike. As for people watching it can't be beat!
It will be a sad day for many people if Ron Paul and his fancy produce stand force the Market to move. By the way, Ron Paul wants to use the parking lot that the Market sits on under the bridge to put in huge loading docks so gas guzzling semi-trucks can unload produce and meat for "his" market. You think a seven-day a week, 365 day a year produce stand will carry only local produce? Unlikely....please email Tom Potter, city council people and the PDC with your support of the Market. Thank you!!

AS I person who has been selling at the Saturday Market throughout its whole life, I would like to make some points.

We had a farmers market section for several years. The farmers dropped out because they couldn't sell enough there.

We sustained the financial viability of Old Town for years.

I was one of the craftspeople who saved Pike Street mkt. from the wrecking ball in the late 60s. Pike Street wasn't created out of whole cloth. It grew into what it is organically. Remember the Yamhill flop.

Somebody said they haven't been to the market for a long time because there's nothing new there. Huh? How could they know? My craft is changing all the time. Hell, I've changed mediums four times since the market started---from wood looms to weaving(more people wanted my demo pieces than wanted to weave themselves), to leather, to porcelain. And now, if I can bring or find a booth sitter, I'm also a street musician song writer. I see new people coming in all the time. I see the old timers changing and improving all the time. But it is true that about half my sales are now to tourists. I get repeat orders from all over the country and the world. I would love to have a globe of the world with a little light shining everywhere there was something i've made with my own hands.

I wonder how many people truly understand what a week-end craft market really means. The most important thing is the personal contact between the maker and the buyer. That can't exist in an everyday market because the maker has to have time to make it. The buyer gets the human and meaningful experience of meeting the maker. The maker gets the uplifting praise and encouragement from the people looking at his or her wares. that really helps, even from those who don't buy. I think these are extreemly important things, especially in todays throw away culture.

The market has always paid its own way, but the cost of selling there as a percentage of net sales has been going up and up especially over the last few years. That has sadly caused many venders to quit. Increased rents have been part of that.

The Saturday Market is famous for being the largest and highest quality arts and crafts market in the country. It is a destination location for almost every tourist that comes to town. It has become a major part of the heart and soul of Portland. Sometimes some people can't see what's closest to them or they might get blinded by short term $$$. The location can certainly be improved but keeping a viable week-end Saturday Market is whithout a doubt in the long term interest of Portland, both for the economy and for livability.

Sat Market should stay where it is under the bridge because of the frequent rain. It should also be made a part of the new Public Market and it should be open all week for those vendors that want a couple week days too.

Who is this Ron Paul? What kind of a track record does he have? Has he owned businesses in Portland?
Were they a success, a failure? Somebody out there have any info?

Ron Paul is well known and well connected. At one time there was even talk of his running for mayor. He ran a catering and restaurant business that thrived for a while, with locations on both sides of the Willamette, but as I recall, it failed in the end.

Ron Paul had restaurants first in the Lloyd District on Broadway --the name escapes me, though I remember having an inspired salmon burger with a slice of ginger!-- and then a place in John's Landing (Ron Paul's Charcuterie, maybe?) that's now a Thai restaurant.

Both were crowded, but the restaurant business is a funny one, and success leads to turnover and burnout so often. I believe Ron is now working out of the Office of Sustainable Development in the City.

Again, I wonder what problem we're trying to fix when we already have thriving farmer's markets and stores like New Seasons that are successfully promoting local and sustainable agriculture? A public market's a fine idea, but why now when it will compete with what's already happening on its own? And when, as usual, city bureaus are being asked to provide cut packages of 1, 2 and 3% in this year's budget cycle, and we can't afford to provide sidewalks for kids to walk to school?

To the commnet: "it takes density" - No it takes customers. Density is only part of the equation. Currently there are customers and there had been prior to the Pearl's artificial renaissance.

I go to saturday market regularly, and its usually packed. In fact the food court there is my favorite restaraunt in Portland (perogies for luch, now that's clean living).

For thirty years Portland's Saturday Market is a success story. Everywhere I've lived (TX, OK, CA, and AK) has had articles run about city council's seeking to repeat our success. To turn around and all of a sudden imply Saturday Market is a civic investment that doesn't pull its own weight is ludicrous.

At no real additional cost (the cost of police and a little extra city sanitation) we have a destination within our city Center that people around the world seek out. Saturday Market represents everyting that is right about Oregon and Portland. Saturday Market is a sign of a succesful city and community. Because it was done without a government offices involvement seems to be the real issue hear.

The fact that the city can't leave well enough alone is a sign that our leaders continue down a path of failure and financial ruin. During the recession businesses screamed that Portland was an unfriendly place to reside. This is just another example of Portland's business climate. Take a close look, this is another story of Portland chasing success and economic viablity from its borders.

Just got back from the Market and BOY WERE WE BUSY...up until around three (started to downpour). Even then, people were still buying. I was encouraged by the QUALITY and number of people in attendance and their support and encouragement. The PSM had a booth set up in the food court area where we asked peoples opinions of the proposed move . Must say that the majority of the people that I spoke with said that they would like the Market to remain exactly where it is and were disgusted with the idea of another condo complex going up.The idea of a chi chi Produce /Meat Market didn't fly either. Most people are fed up with these structures and feel that we have enough of them . There were many out of towners. Three of my customers were from out of town, one from Texas and the other two from Tennessee. All three made a point of comming down and left with purchases over 100 dollars. Lots of people from the surrounding Seattle area as well who Amtracked it down for the day. It was a busy day for a lot of other vendors as well. Doesn't sound like a sinking ship to me. If it ain't broke, why fix it?

Hugs and Kisses

Oh, by the way ,in response to your comment on November 10th(CICOLINI November 10th at 11:43 am)not one of my out of town customers or Suburban soccer moms tried to "score any dope" from me!


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Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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