Haines has a new venue for local artists, craftspeople and foodies to sell their wares. In an effort to spruce up Main Street and help local creative types get a leg up, Haines business owner Chris Thorgesen started Frontier Tradesmen, an indoor market.
It’s a Wednesday in Haines and visitors are sauntering up and down Main Street, milling in doorways and pressing their faces against shop windows. A small group wanders into Frontier Tradesmen, a new business where the Coliseum Theater, and more recently Video 144, used to be.
Right now, there’s not much there, but Thorgesen hopes the idea of an indoor market will take off.
“Basically, what we’re trying to do is get tourists who come by to see that there are local people who are actually tradesmen,” he says. “They make things, they sell things, they produce things that are locally made and locally sold.”
Thorgesen is offering locals a spot in the indoor market for 50 bucks a month – a nominal fee, he says. And if they sell some of their items, he gets a small cut. If they don’t, he doesn’t. He says, you don’t have much to lose.
“And as it stands now, we’ve got the point of sale system set up, so they don’t even have to man their own booth. They can just come in, put down their stuff and we can sell it for them, which kind of a consignment-type deal.”
The idea comes from the recesses of his brain, he says. He wants to make it easy for small vendors or fledgling businesses to sell their merchandise. And pretty much anything goes: artwork, clothing, salmon, jams and jellies – anything a visitor might want from the hands of local craftspeople.
“For right now, I don’t have any stipulations,” he says. “I guess if something came along, you know if you wanted to open a cock-fighting rink, we’d have to talk about that, but otherwise pretty much everything else is on the go.”
Near the back of the renovated space is the old concession stand, where, in a couple of weeks, people will be able to grab a burger or hotdog while they shop. Thorgesen says he also wants to add wifi so guests have another spot to grab a bite, and sit with their phones or tablets. The ultimate plan also includes opening five days a week, but for now the marketplace is only open on Wednesdays for the cruise ships.
He says he’s not trying to take anything away from other businesses, it’s just another option.
“It’s definitely a good thing, if nothing else it just helps support the town and get something else open.”
Along with major renovations inside, the building is getting a facelift on the outside, too. A local artist is in the process of painting a large mural on the side of the building depicting the history of Haines. The building had been closed down since 2009, and Thorgesen says, even though it’s still a work in progress, at least it’s open.
“I didn’t like that boarded up building on Main Street, to me that doesn’t look good for town. I’m glad it’s open.”
The venture is still looking for locals to sells goods. On Wednesday, there were only a couple of options for guests, including Shannon Green and her homemade bread.
“My specialty is the wheat breads, so I’ve got a seed bread and a basic bread,” she says. “I have my own stone mill so I grind all the flour and use organic ingredients. I was trying to find something that worked with the flow of our family to make a little extra income for us. And I like baking bread.”
Green says she used to sell her loaves from home, but it didn’t work out as well as being front and center on Main Street. It’s a family affair with her daughter Lydia making sweet bread for sale, as well.
The pair makes fragrant, mini-loaves right there on site to help lure in peckish visitors. Green says the idea of an indoor market is a good one, but she’s looking forward to a little more company.