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Claire Schechtman, co-founder and market manager, and Sarah Bush, a local artist and founder of Fripp Design, stand out front the new site for the Whiteaker Community Market. (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

The Whiteaker Community Market will begin its fourth year in a new location starting May 5.

The market will be moving from the parking lot on Second Avenue and Van Buren Street to Scobert Park on Fourth Avenue and Blair Street, in the center of the Whiteaker neighborhood. After it reopens in May, the WCM will be open every Sunday through the first week in September.

The weekly market features around 30 vendors selling anything from fresh produce to art and jewelry. Claire Schechtman, co-founder and market manager, says that a large list of rotating vendors keeps the market feeling fresh and new every week.

“We have a pool of about 100 vendors signed up for this season,” Schechtman said. “No one market is exactly the same.”

The move to Scobert park was a task Schechtman had been working towards for the better part of a year, after getting tired of holding the market in various parking lots around the Whiteaker.

The space at Scobert will leave room for people to hang out after browsing the market, while also providing kids a place to play. On top of that, Schectman hopes to feature live music at the market by the end of the summer.

“The park is going to fulfill our mission of creating an open space in the neighborhood,” Schectman said. “The Whiteaker is like a small city, but it doesn’t have a central gathering place and we’ve always hoped to be that.”

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Scobert Gardens park in the Whiteaker neighborhood of Eugene, Ore. (Sarah Northrop/Emerald)

In the past few years, the city of Eugene has made efforts to reduce crime and homelessness in Scobert park by adding fencing in 2010 and proposing restoration projects in 2016. Schectman hopes the market can help rebrand the park as a safe place for community members all year round.

“A neighbor told me that they don't allow their kids to play on the playground, which is really sad,” Schectman said. “I want our presence to bring visibility to the fact that a lot of people live here and want to feel safe.”

Moving to Scobert park allows the market an opportunity to compete with larger open air markets, such as Eugene’s Saturday market, located on the park blocks on the weekends.

While the similarities between the markets are many, Schectman notes that there are few vendors who participate in both markets, and that WCM places an emphasis on local goods from people actually living in the Whiteaker neighborhood.

This year, according to a press release, WCM will begin prioritizing POC and LGBTQIA+ vendors and entertainment in an attempt to elevate marginalized communities.

Sarah Bush, a local artist and founder of Fripp Design, has been selling her homemade jewelry at the market since 2017. Bush’s jewelry is both rustic and modern, with small earrings and necklaces made from copper and silver, among other materials.

“I opened my business two years ago and started vending at the market almost immediately,” Bush said. “About 50 percent of my business comes from vending at markets like this.”

Bush is excited about the prospect of having a market in an environment where people don’t feel rushed to leave.

“Having a park where people can come hang out and want to spend like three or four hours with their friends is so important,” Bush said. “It’s very community-oriented. That’s part of the magic of it at this stage where it’s small and new.”

For more information about the market, including vendor applications, visit here.

News Reporter

Donny Morrison is a news reporter covering the city beat for the Daily Emerald. In the past he's written feature stories for both Ethos Magazine and The Torch. He takes strictly cold showers.