The Eliot neighborhood has long longed for more retail on commercial streets such as Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, to see activity and commercial services instead of empty lots and buildings. Things have improved since our low point in the late 1970s, but more is needed.
Until we capture that dream, we have Dreamer’s Market Place.
The venture has been occurring weekly in the open space around the former American State Bank building at 2737 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Conceived by the building’s leaseholders, it provides space for people with something to sell.
As manager Eric Starr says, the criteria is that the people selling the product “make it, gather it, grow it or bake it. We’re avoiding re-sellers. We’re not the taste police, I don’t want to criticize anyone’s venture or look down on Tupperware sales, but we want to create a compelling market place, with things that are new and sustainable.”
In mid-June, with Father’s Day and other such events as competition, the market had what Starr says was its slowest day, with just 13 booths. They have had as many as 19, there is space for 30, and he is confident that he can attract that many. Part of the mix is local musicians, and unlike many markets this one pays the performers and doesn’t make them rely on money in a hat.
Still to come are food carts. They had not arrived at press time, Starr says, because the market tried to do the right thing. On the advice of City officials, they are installing the first permanent gray water pod disposal system in Portland; wastewater will drain through a grease trap, then directly into the sewer. The catch, Starr says, is “it’s taken longer than we ever anticipated. We expected to have the carts here before the other vendors, and instead it’s the other way around.” But, he assures us, they’re coming.
The market is the brainchild of leaseholders Karen and Peter Disciascio. Their intent is to eventually develop the inside the of building, which will be re-named. “Our plans are still being formulated, but we’ll have a variety of events and activities,” Starr says.
Meantime there is the market, which experience elsewhere shows can be a boost to the businesses and commercial properties around them. The late Bill Naito, owner of a substantial part of the Old Town neighborhood, rented space and gave vital support to the Portland Saturday Market, realizing that it would pay off in more activity – and customers – for the business area around it.
For more information about Dreamers Marketplace or to reserve your own booth contact Eric at 503-780-7776, firstname.lastname@example.org.