Business slow at farmers market in Post Falls

Fundraiser for Lions Club draws few customers

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Paul Puhek and his son Joe have been attending the Post Falls Farmers Market to encourage more small farmers to participate. They agree traffic has been slow there so far.

POST FALLS - The sun was glistening on the goods displayed Sunday at the Post Falls Farmers Market: Fresh vegetables, sparkling hand-made jewelry, bird baths.

Unfortunately, the only people there were behind the booths.

Even that wasn't a crowd, since there were only four set up.

"It's been very slow," acknowledged Ken Cook with the Post Falls Lions Club that organized the market. "I hate to say that, but it's the truth. We can't get the public to come by, to participate with us."

In its second year, the nonprofit's Post Falls market, which takes place on Sundays, has continued to struggle, Cook said, with minimal traffic and dwindling vendor numbers.

In fact, on the market's final day of the season on Sunday, Cook figured the Lions Club had only taken in $200 in profit for the whole summer.

"I guess people don't read the paper or see the signs or listen to the radio," Cook said of all the nonprofit's advertising efforts.

The Lions Club donates all proceeds to community efforts, Cook said, like the senior center, local schools, the Parks and Recreation scholarship program.

The idea is also to finally provide a farmers market for Post Falls, he said.

"Every city has one," Cook said, standing by the market at a grassy spot on 6th Street. "It gives people the opportunity to have their own market nearby."

Although technically 35 vendors are signed up for the market, usually 12 or less have been showing up, Cook said.

"Now it's just dwindling down," he said.

The Lions Club still plans to continue the effort, though. Cook said it will set up an indoor market in February.

"I believe it will happen," he said. "Like my dad told me years ago, there's no such word as 'can't.'"

Dianna Dirkson was packing up her hand-made jewelry to cart home early on Sunday.

She said the traffic hasn't been that bad for her booth this summer, and that she participates in the Post Falls market because she thinks the city could benefit from it.

"It's to grow Post Falls," said Dirkson, who lives in Coeur d'Alene but whose daughter lives in Post Falls. "And we all want to buy American. That's what's nice about all these artists, all the stuff that's made here locally."

Paul Puhek said two people had come by all day to check out his produce stand.

A far cry from what he's used to at the Liberty Lake farmers market, Puhek said.

"Starting at 9 a.m., we're standing all day. One thousand to 1,200 people come walking through," the Otis Orchards farmer said.

But Puhek was in Post Falls more as a role model for other farmers, he said. He wanted to at least establish a produce presence at the new market, he said, and encourage other farmers to take part.

"I'd like to see small agriculture come back," he said. "We need more farmers markets. I don't think we're saturated yet."

A smaller market like Post Falls is perfect for new farmers to get their feet wet, he added.

"Most of the time, you want to start small and build yourself up," he said.

Ruth Chase admitted that traffic at her booth of rhubarb-shaped birdbaths has simply been "not good."

But the Post Falls woman believes the market is important for the community, she said.

She plans to be back next year.

"It takes time to get something like this going," Chase said. "We have patience."

Those interested in participating in the market or who want more information can call 964-0181.

Dianna Dirkson packs up her hand-crafted jewelry at the Post Falls Farmers Market on Sunday. Dirkson wants to see the market thrive, but organizers say it hasn't been popular so far.

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