The Capital City Public Market: The History and the Mission

The Capital City Public Market: The History and the MissionEvery Saturday, Downtown Boise, Idaho transforms into an incredible market full of food, culture, art, and fun. It has grown tremendously over the years. From its humble beginnings with only 12 vendors to over 150 daily vendors when the season peaks, it’s clear that the Capital City Public Market is popular, booming, and here to stay. The Market lives on 8th Street, between Main Street and State Street, and it covers 4 blocks of Boise’s downtown. The Capital City Public Market didn’t start out so big or grand, but it was always destined to grow.

The Beginning

It began in 1994. It grew out of a love of open air markets, like the thriving Pike Street Market in Seattle and the Portland Farmers Market. But Boise, Idaho didn’t have that kind of market. It was time for that to change. Downtown Boise, Idaho needed an open air market, and it was time to make that happen. The Capital City Public Market was originally created as the Saturday Market, and with the love and dedication of the hardworking people that sought to create a beautiful open air market downtown, it started as an immediate success.

As Boise, Idaho’s downtown continued to grow and change, the Saturday Market had to move. It took up residence on a dirt lot on the corner of 8th Street and Main Street. This was in 1996, and the dirt lot was known simply as “The Hole.” Now, this is where the beautiful 8th and Main building sits.

But the Market didn’t stop growing. It was so successful and popular that many downtown businesses lobbied for the Capital City Development Corporation to let the Market takeover 8th Street between Bannock and Idaho. Here, the Market flourished yet again, showing that no matter where the Market was, or how many times it had to move, it was going strong and it was here to stay. Over the next two years, the Market grew and expanded to cover two city blocks. There were now 25 vendors.

The Continued Growth

The Capital City Public Market wasn’t done moving yet. In 2003, the Market moved yet again, and started occupying the Grove. This added another two city blocks, which really let the Market grow, and coupled with the Grove, the Market began to draw in the arts. They finally had the room to dedicate a block to the arts, creating a place for artists and performers to share their work with the rest of Boise, Idaho in a nurturing environment. The Market worked with several different organizations to create an art program for kids and a program for emerging artists.

Even going into 2010, the Capital City Public Market wasn’t done moving. Still on 8th Street, the Market moved between Bannock and Jefferson. But that still wasn’t enough. As the Market kept growing and thriving in an urban area, safety for pedestrians became even more of a concern. Working with several groups, one among them the Boise City Police Department, the Market was able to take over the new north block. In 2014, the Market had to shift again as downtown was changing. Today, the Capital City Public Market is completely on 8th Street, sitting between Main Street and State Street. There are now over 150 vendors that participate in the Market, and the Capital City Public Market has grown to 4 blocks in Boise, Idaho’s downtown.

The Mission

The Capital City Public Market has grown to incredible proportions, but it still holds onto its early mission of a healthy community sustained by local food. Since its beginnings, it has grown to incorporate the local artists and performers of the Boise, Idaho area by creating a public space as well as programs targeted at both emerging artists and children. The Market is all about exposing people to the products of the Treasure Valley, and creating a place where the consumers can meet the producers face to face.

But the Capital City Public Market does more than just creating a place for this interaction to happen. It wholly enables local vendors and artists to use the Market. It does this by creating a support system, where fees are affordable, weekly advertising is free, and vendors will receive training and assistance in both merchandising and marketing. The Market goes even further by acting as a leasing agent, which makes it easier for local vendors to become a part of the Market. Overall, the Capital City Public Market serves to connect local vendors and producers with local consumers in an incredible way, by creating a nurturing environment that is safe and supportive for everyone.


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