Every year, Sooke Country Market gets the same question: “Is the market in the same location this year?”
The answer is yes, Sooke Country Market will be in its usual location at Otter Point and Eustace roads, opening May 4.
The market has flourished at the site for 20 years due to the generosity of local property owners Richard and Jean Phillips.
The Phillips bought the property in 1980 to use a piece of it for storage for their busy plumbing business.
In 1997, the Sooke Country Market was looking for a downtown location, after operating at Sooke elementary and Edward Milne community schools. A board member approached the Phillips’ family about using the unused portion of the site for the market. The Phillips welcomed the market and, without charging a fee, have given the market a home.
The benefits of Phillips’ generosity have been many.
The downtown location has allowed the market to develop a faithful following of customers, and is easily accessed by tourists, cyclists and hikers who come to Sooke on weekends.
The location is close to many other amenities including coffee shops, art galleries, restaurants and services that locals and tourists frequent.
Without paying rent, the market has been able to keep vendors fees low, so home-based entrepreneurs and new small-scale farmers can join the market without a large financial risk.
As Sooke grows, the pressure for downtown parking has increased.
In 2016, the District of Sooke entered into a lease agreement with the Phillips family to rent the Otter Point site for parking, with the understanding that the Sooke Country Market continue to operate Saturdays, May to October each year. The district is generous in fencing and preparing the property this year.
Although Sooke Country Market officials know this location may not always be available, the community and government support it has received signifies the importance of a local farmer’s market to Sooke residents.
For information and ways to support the market firstname.lastname@example.org.