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Possible changes may be on the horizon for Redmond Saturday Market
For 39 years, the Redmond Saturday Market (RSM) has been providing the community with local produce, goods, crafts and more.
Nearly 30 of those years have been spent at the market's current location at 7730 Leary Way downtown. When this year's market opens on Saturday, it will be no different. But the same may not be said for the future. With Redmond Town Center (RTC) under new management, there is the possibility of the RSM either moving to the town center's Center Court or leaving the town center property altogether.
RSM President Pete Godwin said there are a lot of unknowns about the situation at the moment, but one of their concerns about moving to the middle of the town center is the market losing its autonomy and the ability to decide what can and cannot be sold. Currently, everything sold at the RSM must be grown, made and manufactured in Washington.
Courtney Klein with JSH Properties, Inc., the company that owns RTC, acknowledged RSM organizers' need for this.
"They want to make sure to run their market the way they have been," she said, adding that they like the market's emphasis on local products and would like to keep it that way if the market moved to Center Court. "We think all of that is great."
Klein, who is the town center's property manager, said since JSH took over RTC in August, they have been in the process of upgrading Center Court to make it more pedestrian friendly. One part of that process has been the idea of incorporating a weekly market and Klein said they would like to make plans to accommodate RSM.
"We're trying to include them more into Redmond Town Center and the community," she said.
In addition to the possibility of losing autonomy, Godwin said another concern about potentially moving to Center Court is that market vendors would be in direct competition with stores in the town center.
"You're mixing the market vendors with commercial vendors," he said, adding that RSM organizers pride themselves on not being like the typical mall vendors. "This would be a huge change for us."
Godwin, a Bothell resident who is also an RSM vendor selling concrete garden art, also noted that the structures under which some of the vendors are housed on market Saturday were built by volunteers when RSM first moved to its current location and are very sturdy. This indicates an intention that this was supposed to be a permanent location for the market, he said.
"We'd like to stay there, ideally," Godwin said.
He admitted that vendors at the RSM are spoiled in that they are able to park their cars right behind their booths. Moving locations would mean losing that perk. In addition, he said if RTC goes ahead and holds a Saturday market — which would be a separate one from RSM — they could lose some vendors to that market.
Since staying in the same location for future market seasons may not be possible, RSM organizers are looking at various potential locations including Redmond City Hall and Downtown Park.
"We're trying to keep our options open," Godwin said.
But before seriously considering any place, he said they have to look at things logistically and make sure they would be able to meet health codes, provide hot water for vendors selling food, adequate restrooms, electricity and other details.
"These are considerations we have to take into account," he said about the search for a new location.
Klein pointed out that if RSM were to move to Center Court, this would solve some of the logistical issues such as having portable restrooms. She said JSH’s intention in renovating Center Court is to incorporate a market, but details such as whether it will be RSM, a separate market and what day of the week it will be held are still in the works.
RSM Director Nicole Wrigley agreed that there are a lot of different things to think about when considering the future of RSM.But one aspect of the RSM is especially important to them.
"It's really essential that wherever we do end up that we can continue to operate as we are," she said.