We love our spring crocuses for their color, but they do much more than decorate our ecosystem. Their scent lures honeybees from their hibernating clusters. The pollen exchange for fruits and edibles begins anew. We see only its color — or that’s all we will see. For now, we wait, colorless.
In the same way, this weekend marks the nadir of our community’s unique creative culture. Saturday Market will resume its season in April, seven weeks from now. Holiday Market closed seven weeks ago. We’re more removed from its color and liveliness now than any other time of the year.
Our Saturday Market is cultural expression as economic engine. We celebrate the derring-do of local skills and ideas — specifically, those willing to add to that formula some effort and risk. These winter months allow experimentation and incubation, separated from the pressures of production.
Our cold-weather contribution is anticipation. Color is right around the corner. And with it, fertility.
Here are three ideas for a Saturday Market booth that I’d like to see.
We garden for food, sew for clothing, hammer for furniture. We make our own bread. As Thoreau wrote, “He who cuts his own firewood is warmed twice.” But Do It Yourselfers have so far avoided cleaning supplies. Soap sells well at Saturday Market, but our cleaner selves also want home-grown solutions for our windows, floors, laundry, shoes, and ovens. The recipes for these cleaners can be found on the Internet, but testing with toxics frightens us.
A Saturday Marketer could fill that void with trust and color. Which bleach or Borax mixes best for cleaning leather? That’s where angels fear to tread. Gauze wings will be sold on the Park Blocks, but why eliminate the middle-seraph? An enterprising marketer could test various solutions and find the best recipe for various uses, then package the formula with a brightly colored label, affixed to an empty bottle with the best nozzle for the job.
Shoppers will leave with a bottle, a recipe, and confidence that they’re diminishing their support of the cleanliness-industrial complex.
You can buy apps for your phone to navigate any city in America. Apps can direct your way around smaller areas of interest. Even some grocery stores now offer this handheld convenience. But none of those terrains change every week the way Saturday Market does. How many shoppers would gladly pay 99 cents to be directed this week to the various coppersmiths showing their wares, and another 99 cents the following week to find decoupaged light switch covers?
People wandering through the Market love that lost feeling, but only for a little while. You can weave your way as through a meditative labyrinth, until you see you’re running out of time (or blood sugar). All of a sudden, time is of the essence. A Saturday Market app might seem newfangled to some of its stalwarts, but I would welcome it as an act of hospitality.
Sometimes it seems to me that a third of Saturday Market craftspeople are repurposing detritus that was bound for a landfill. The Market’s zeal for recycling is woven in. But what can be done with a Saturday Market purchase you no longer need or want? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to bring it back and receive some small credit toward a new purchase from the same or a different merchant?
Merchants could endorse the concept with their own buy-back rate, the sales documentation they prefer, and whether Reuse Squared can resell it directly. Some may prefer to buy it back themselves. Saturday Market merchants already earn the trust that comes with immediacy. This program could deepen that strength and bring more shoppers back.
In a town with more convictions than courage, Saturday Market will again couple them for us, packaged in primary colors. Meantime, we huddle through winter like the honeybees conserving energy. It’s 50 days until those colors brighten downtown, crocuses of commerce.
Its scent will lure us back, exchanging. From this weekend forward, you can hear the building buzz.
Don Kahle (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs.