Generosity affords Sooke Country Market a home
Every year, about this time, we get the same question …“Is the market in the same location this year?” The answer is YES, Sooke Country Market will be in our usual location at Otter Point Rd. and Eustace Rd, opening Saturday, May 4, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
The market is fortunate to have flourished here for about 20 years due to the generosity of a local property owner. Richard and Jean Phillips purchased the property in 1980, in order to use a piece of it for storage for their busy plumbing business. In about 1997 the Sooke Country Market was looking for a downtown location, after operating at Sooke Elementary and Edward Milne Secondary 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 Richard and Jean’s generosity have been many. The enviable 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 the 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 rapidly 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 has also been very generous in fencing and preparing the property this year.
Although we know this location may not always be available, the community and government support we have received signifies the importance of a local farmer’s market to the people of Sooke. With that in mind, we look confidently to the future, and are assured there will always be a home for Sooke Country Market.