Shopping for beautiful, handmade creations during the day is fine, but there’s something that much more magical about a night market. That’s how it seems to Jessica Chan-O’Donnell, who said night markets are far more popular overseas than they are here — but that the U.S. is starting to discover the magic too.
Chan-O’Donnell moved up to Vancouver from Portland about three years ago and wasn’t sure what to expect, she said. She surprised herself by “falling in love with the downtown area,” she said, because it’s both a friendly and intimate place where the players all seem to know one another — but also a vibrant place that’s growing quickly.
“I have been pleasantly surprised — we’re almost cool!” she laughed.
To help our cool along, Chan-O’Donnell stepped in when Boomerang, the diverse downtown shop that tried to be everything from cafe to thrift shop to art gallery to meeting place for moms, shrank back to being simply a cafe. O’Donnell, who has a background in industrial design and a passion for business, tried launching her Night Market in the leftover space during last October’s First Friday Art Walk, and she was amazed at the vendor enthusiasm generated by her social media invitations.
If You Go
• What: Night Market Vancouver.
• When: 5 to 9 p.m. every first Friday night of the month.
• Where: 806 and 808 Main St., Vancouver.
• Admission: Free.
• Learn more: www.nightmarketvancouver.com
• • •
• What: Terminal 1 Night Market. Featuring development plans, as well as vendors and entertainment.
• When: 5 to 10 p.m. today.
• Where: WareHouse ’23, 100 Columbia St., Vancouver.
• Admission: Free.
• Learn more: www.nightmarketvancouver.com/terminal1
“We packed the place,” she said, and it’s continued to be packed with vendors and shoppers, monthly, ever since. “The vendors are all supportive of each other. There’s such a friendly feeling. I didn’t get that feeling in Portland,” she said.
At last count there are a whopping 65 vendors signed up for every monthly event, she said — from Adan Ramos Photography and Bandit Kettle Corn through FISHBONE Pottery and Hazy Dell Press (a children’s book publisher) to Wayward & Wild (Pacific Northwest apparel) and ZoeApothic (soaps, oils, balms, spiritual products).
“We’re giving a presence to small makers who couldn’t afford their own retail space,” Chan-O’Donnell said. Every month, she added, there are new applications and a selection process, so there’s always a healthy amount of turnover and new offerings from new booths. Seasons and holidays drive that too, she said.
Terminal 1 tonight
The Night Market has successfully piggybacked on downtown Vancouver’s long-established First Friday event, but an occasion set for tonight will be a little different, and a short distance off-site.
The Night Market was invited by the Port of Vancouver to venture over to waterfront restaurant WareHouse ’23, Chan-O’Donnell said, and draw attention to firming-up plans for its 10-acre Terminal 1 space. That’s the zone just east of the big new Waterfront Vancouver development. It includes WareHouse ’23, which used to be the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay, as well as the pier it’s standing on.
All of that will eventually have to be replaced, according to port spokeswoman Abbi Russell. “That pier is the original 1920s pier, and there’s not a lot of life left in it,” Russell said. But the space is unique and rich with possibilities, she said, and both redevelopment consultants and the public have helped the port settle on a people-friendly vision of a permanent Public Market full of local vendors there.
“We did a lot of community outreach, and we found a lot of folks are really excited about the idea of a public marketplace,” Russell said. “The plan is starting to become firm.”
To see how it’s done, the port has studied the longstanding Pike Place Market in Seattle, she said, as well as the innovative Pybus Public Market in Wenatchee. “That’s very similar, it’s a former foundry right on the Columbia and it’s really amazing. It was an inspiration for us,” Russell said.
Redevelopment of the Terminal 1 space is still three to five years, and perhaps $30 million, away. Any plans to replace the Interstate Bridge, just yards to the east, would also complicate the port’s plans.