We all had plans. In fact, making plans for how we would spend the summer is one of the only ways many of us could get through the cruel days of winter.
And while this might not be the hot girl summer that we all wanted, some of the plans we had made are finally coming to fruition—even if they are sightly altered.
The Kendall Yards Night Market is one of the classic summer traditions of Spokane that takes months of planning in order to draw crowds of people out to enjoy summer nights and to celebrate Spokane’s local businesses.
Regardless of the extra challenges that COVID-19 has foisted on large gatherings, the Night Market has been able to keep its season going.
“I’ve been involved in the Night Market for a few years but this is my first year acting as the director,” said Angela Schultz, director of the Kendall Yards Night Market. “It has been a bittersweet experience. It’s wonderful to be here but it’s also heartbreaking since this is the livelihood for our vendors and seeing how this pandemic has affected them.”
According to Schultz, the Night Market is different from other farmers markets because it is located on public property. So, in order to keep their permit they must abide to a certain set of protocol given by the city.
“The biggest change we made to the market is being on the north side of Kendall Yards,” Schultz said. “We have given each vendor enough space so that they are exactly 6 feet apart. We also just sent the city a proposal to change our permit, so starting Aug. 5 we will be able to have food trucks for the rest of the season.”
While many establishments have experienced some level of resistance when asking people to abide by certain COVID-related rules, the Night Market has a different experience.
“These are not the markets rules, but they are the city’s rules for everyone, but it has been really calm and peaceful so far,” Schultz said. “About 95% of people have honored the rules. It shows the people are really in support of the market and its vendors. The biggest issue is that people are used to bringing dogs to the market, but they are unfortunately no longer allowed at the market.”
The Night Market typically consists of 50 to 60 vendors, however now they cut that number to about 25 to 28 vendors per week.
Some of the vendors are veterans of the Night Market while others started their businesses weeks before or even during quarantine.
Jared Kuck, owner of K2 Greens, is one of these vendors, who originally planned to work at the market on the side but is now mainly selling at farmers markets around Spokane.
“We were honestly a little bit shocked when this all started,” Kuck said. “Last fall we thought we would have a viable business so we started growing our crops in January with the intent to sell to restaurants. Then March came around and we had to pivot to selling at farmers markets.”
Pacific Produce has been a vendor at the Night Market before and has found this season to be particularly challenging.
“About one third of our revenue has been slacking this,” Kia Xiong of Pacific Produce said. “This market is more of a night market than a farmers market which drives the younger generation out and we are really missing them right now.”
The crowds aren’t the only thing hurting vendors during this pandemic, some of the social distancing protocol mandated by the city can also hurt the sales of fruits and vegetables.
“We usually have samplings which draws a lot of people in,” Xiong said. “Since we can’t have them during the pandemic sales have gone down. People like to try our crops before they buy it, especially if it is something they have never tried before.”
The Kendall Yards Night Market takes place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Wednesday. Even though sustaining a farmers market can be difficult during the time of coronavirus, the Kendall Yards Night Market continues to make plans.
“We are so grateful to have this and do this and we are just planning for how the market will look next year and for the rest of the season,” Schultz said.