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Capital City Public Market credits events, hotels for growth

Mona Warchol is executive director of Boise’s popular Capital City Public Market. Warchol used to work in the movie industry in California, and she calls the market’s volunteers “production assistants.” Photo by Fiona Montagne.

Mona Warchol is executive director of the Capital City Public Market, which fills several blocks of downtown Boise with locals and out-of-towners every Saturday morning from April through December.

More than 125 vendors at the 24-year-old market sell produce, baked goods, art, and crafts at the market. Wares are required to be made or grown by the vendors.

“That is the criteria of the market so it stays local and made in Idaho,” said Warchol, who was hired two years ago to manage the market.

Warchol, who previously owned a restaurant in Seattle and worked as a video producer, said Boise’s population explosion has had a predictable effect on the market, where sales are soaring. She said she often meets market visitors who are visiting for conventions or events and have stayed for the weekend, and attributes much of the growth this year to the new hotel rooms downtown. Four new downtown hotels with a combined 580 rooms have opened in downtown Boise since January 2017, all within six blocks of the market.

“We are a phenomenal tourist destination now. We have exploded this year in the volume of people every Saturday,” Warchol said. “Luckily we had a foundation in place, but we never in our wildest dreams thought it would be like this this year.”

Warchol doesn’t know exactly how much the market has grown; her estimates are based on her experiences every Saturday when she and her crew are out in the market with walkie-talkies. She said the market in Salt Lake City is about twice the size of Boise’s. While most of her focus goes to the logistics, she’s also thinking strategically, and would like to start other similar markets around Idaho.

“We were asked to do one in Meridian and we didn’t because we weren’t ready,” she said. Now that they are, she’s looking at Bown Crossing next.

The University of Idaho Extension studied the Capital City Public Market on one day in July 2016 and counted 120 vendors and about 15,000 visitors on that day.

Through Dec. 15, the Capital City Public Market will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays at The Grove Plaza. For more information, go to www.capitalcitypublicmarket.com.

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