The Seattle Farmers Market Association's Thursday market, which was displaced after the Seattle Art Museum decided not to make the Olympic Sculpture Park available as a venue again this year, will now be located at the Interbay Urban Center.
The market will be situated outside of Whole Foods in a parking lot used last summer for a wholesalers' morning market. The proximity of the market to a full-service grocery store should appeal to shoppers, Seattle Farmers Market Association's Jon Hegeman says.
"We find the secret to a successful market is having diversity of choices," Hegeman says. "People can buy wine and beer and spirits and do their entire shopping list."
Hegeman says the neighboring grocery model has worked in Madrona, where the weekly market is located in a Grocery Outlet parking lot.
"We thought it was brave, but it worked famously," Hegeman says.
At Whole Foods, the market will be well-positioned to take advantage of heavy foot traffic, Hegeman says. That wasn't the case at Olympic Sculpture Park, which posed logistical headaches for organizers and vendors.
"We all kind of realized the garden wasn't built for a farmers market," Hegeman says. "It was a beautiful market, but it was a lot more labor-intensive than was justified. When the Seattle Art Museum announced they had different plans for this summer, we thought 'Oh, darn, too bad.'"
The association had previously explored the possibility of setting up a market at Interbay, but "the politics of builders and developers was so complex, we didn't get very far," Hegeman says.
Whole Foods will not derive any direct financial benefit from serving as a market host. "For them, it seems to fit their corporate ethic," Hegeman says. "They're pretty much giving us carte blanche."
The market will open for the season on June 9.
"Of all our markets, it has the most potential to really grow and blossom, because of the tremendous visibility and the fact it's going to be an event, with tastings and chef demos," Hegeman says. "We're looking forward to it."