Inspiration can strike in the most mundane of circumstances. Just ask David and Amy Gatton, whose latest inspiration for a business hit when they were trying to get their daughter to eat carrots last fall.
“Last fall, when the (Whitefish) farmers market ended, and we couldn’t get our CSA vegetables, we were trying to get our daughter to eat carrots, but they weren’t the carrots from 10 Lakes Farm,” David Gatton said. “And we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have an indoor market open year round?’”
They talked about the idea on a Thursday, he said, and were in talks with the bank about a loan the next Monday. And from there, the Stumptown Marketplace has continued to evolve, with a potential opening date in June.
The marketplace will be a place for vendors to show their wares despite the weather outside, Gatton said, but there is no urge or desire to compete with the Whitefish Farmers Market.
“I don’t want to take away from the farmers market, I want to add to it,” he said. “It’s not an indoor farmers market so much as a place for local business to get a start.”
Gatton said the Stumptown Marketplace would be fashioned after the indoor markets popular in Italy, France and even San Francisco, with a variety of fresh, local products available all in one place.
The building, located at 12 Spokane Ave. in Whitefish, is currently under construction, with the storefront expected to be completed sometime this week. Inside will be 12 vendor booths, set up in a similar way to the Pike’s Place Market in Seattle, he said, varying in size from 100 square feet to 300 square feet.
Six of the booths will be equipped with the plumbing, gas and electrical needs for a burgeoning restaurant to set up business, he said, and the other six spaces will be reserved for different types of vendors. Already, Gatton said he has spoken with a goldsmith, a chocolatier, a company that makes all-natural makeup products, an all-natural cleaning supply company, and more.
“It’s been really well received,” Gatton said. “I did not expect the amount of interest I’m getting.”
Despite opening up in June and in such close proximity to the farmers market, Gatton said the marketplace would act as the next step up for those vendors who are especially successful in an environment such as the local market.
If a food cart gets really popular and decides to upgrade to a full-blown restaurant, the logistics can be expensive and tricky, Gatton said. The Stumptown Marketplace would be a new option for such endeavors, providing the kitchen space, the bathrooms, the common eating area, and other aspects a restaurant could need.
“This provides that stopgap in between for the little food truck seasonal business that does it one night a week for 12 weeks a year,” he said.
“This gives that next step up at a real reasonable price.”
Already signed on is Pig and Olive, offering innovative sandwiches such as a savory waffle cone with fried chicken and maple syrup, or locally made sausage wrapped in onion rings, then beer battered and served up.
The restaurant booths would likely be longer-term tenants than the other leases, Gatton said, with the non-restaurant vendors likely rotating and turning over more often than a usual storefront.
Gatton said he has also been talking to several butchers about getting local meat into the marketplace; having beef and pork options in one place would make it easier for residents to get their shopping done in one stop instead of driving all over the valley, he said.
And while vegetables and produce might be tougher to come by during the winter due to Northwest Montana’s relatively short growing season, there are potential options with farmers who use hydroponic systems, Gatton said.
Gatton is already known for his business experience as the current general manager for the Izaak Walton Inn, and he oversees Eddy’s Café and Gifts in Apgar in Glacier National Park and a couple other endeavors in the area.
With that experience going into this new idea, Gatton believes the Stumptown Marketplace will be a success in Whitefish, especially because residents make an effort to support their local businesses.
“We’ve had a fantastic response from the community,” Gatton said.
For more information on the Stumptown Marketplace, visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/stumptownmarketplace.
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