RG14.1 Saturday Market as an economic engine

Anyone who claims that retail is dead in downtown Eugene doesn’t know where (or when) to look. Head down to the Park Blocks this Saturday and try to find a sympathetic ear for your “downtown is dying” ballad. Saturday Market brings out the best in Eugene: faithful customers, talented entertainers, entrepreneurial spirits, wide-eyed tourists, fresh foods and fresh ideas. No other downtown hosts so reliably such a riot of free enterprise, spilling over its edges but smiling all the way. Anyone with an idea, ten bucks and some patience can become a businessperson for a day in Eugene. And thanks to a town with no business licensing strictures and a state with no sales taxes, it really is as simple as that. Make a shingle Friday, sell your wares on Saturday. (The shingle is optional.) We couldn’t make it any easier to begin a business in Eugene. That said, we could make it easier to grow a business in Eugene. If I could do just one thing to help build Eugene’s local business base, it would be to create steps between a Saturday Market booth and downtown’s least expensive storefronts. Portland has wisely built permanent roll-up spaces at the edge of their weekend Market footprint, allowing businesses to expand to more days and dry accommodations without signing a long-term lease or even committing to store hours in advance. If we had that, there are a few — who knows how many — who would gladly bring their Saturday energy and optimism to other days of downtown’s week.