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Market seeking new home

MONMOUTH — The Monmouth craft market in the old firehouse, 152 S. Warren St., will be closing its doors on Dec. 21. The city, which owns the building, is looking for a different use for the space.

Melissa Hurst, market manager of the Monmouth Craft and Vendor Market, weighs potatoes and other root vegetables for customer Marilyn Morton on Nov. 27.

Photo by Emily Mentzer

Melissa Hurst, market manager of the Monmouth Craft and Vendor Market, weighs potatoes and other root vegetables for customer Marilyn Morton on Nov. 27.

December 03, 2013

MONMOUTH — The Monmouth craft market in the old firehouse, 152 S. Warren St., will be closing its doors on Dec. 21. The city, which owns the building, is looking for a different use for the space.

"As far as I know, the mayor doesn't like my change," said market manager Melissa Hurst.

Mayor John Oberst said it's a case where Monmouth started with a farmers market, and now doesn't have one.

"The initial intent (for the space) was a farmers market," he said. "What we ended up with is a secondhand shop. The thing has changed a lot over time from what we'd originally intended."

Hurst has worked at the market, which is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m., for three years. When she first started, it was mostly a farmers market, with some crafts.

"I was fine with that, but our community needed more than that," Hurst said.

She and vendors began mixing in flea market items, including furniture, to fill in empty spots, she said.

"When I got here, it looked empty," Hurst said. "People would be really hesitant. They'd come in and walk back out or just drive by."

Now the building has vendors selling some handmade craft items, as well as secondhand shop items.

Claudia Falcon has been selling goods at the market for a few weeks.

"We want to stay open, but the city won't allow it," she said.

Her main clientele consists of Western Oregon University students and other Monmouth residents on low incomes, she said. Falcon's prices range from $2 to $12. With the market within walking distance, she said it is convenient for students, particularly those without cars.

"We don't do nothing wrong, but you know, the city is the city," Falcon said.

Oberst said the council and Hurst met in a city work session last spring to discuss what they would like to see at the location.

He said Hurst told them during that meeting that the market would get more farmers during the summer, and it didn't happen.

"We went to them this fall and said this is not happening," Oberst said. "We had an earlier cutoff date, but they wanted to go through the holiday season. We let them do that."

Market vendor Dorothy Pachel said she would like to see if the market could find a permanent location.

"We've been looking, but rents are really high," she said.

The city does not charge any rent to the market vendors, but does ask that they pay utilities.

Meanwhile, the city is accepting proposals for use of the space until 4 p.m. on Dec. 19.

"I would like to see a traditional farmers market somewhere downtown," Oberst said. "Traditionally farmers markets have fresh produce all summer, and some other things, maybe a scattering of crafts."

For more information about using the building: www.ci.monmouth.or.us.

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