People buy candy at the International Market on the west side of Salt Lake City at the Utah State Fairpark, 155 N. 1000 West. The market first opened on Saturday and will be open on several other Saturdays throughout the year. (Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com)
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SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City International Market opened for the first time on Saturday, with vendors selling food, jewelry, clothing and art.
Before it was open for a full hour almost every vendor had people to talk to and the lines were growing.
The international market, located at the Utah State Fairpark, will be open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. approximately once a month on select Saturdays through October. But organizers expect it to expand and be held more frequently next year as more suppliers and customers get involved.
“This is one of those developments that is impossible not to encourage. This is an opportunity for the talent that we know here to show what they can do,” said Victoria Petro-Eschler, member of the Salt Lake City Council representing the district. in which the market is located.
She sees the market as an opportunity for the rest of the city and state to experience the diversity of Salt Lake City’s west side.
Petro-Eschler said organizers were targeting area vendors and had taken steps to ensure representation from local businesses and contractors. She is thrilled that community members from different cultures are helping to solve food availability issues and grow their businesses at the same time.
“Giving them the chance to take advantage of solution assistance is just a really beautiful cycle,” the counselor said.
Larry Mullenax, CEO of Utah State Fair, said locals have expressed interest in a market on the west side of town. He said the market is designed to help budding entrepreneurs, bring together different cultures and uplift people.
Mullenax said this week they have around 35 vendors in addition to food trucks and indoor food stalls. The next market, which will take place on June 18, will have even more sellers.
The city was looking for ways to create new events on the west side of Salt Lake City and address a disparity between the amount of money spent on the west side versus the east side of town. A local consultant did a feasibility study on a market, which had promising results, he said.
“It turns out it was a really good fit for a West Side market to help the West Side community,” Mullenax said.
Mullenax said the Food and Drug Administration has defined the area as a food desert due to the lack of availability of fresh foods and groceries, based on income and transportation. As the market grows, organizers hope to offer fresh meat and vegetables to further solve this problem.
Dave Lewis, chairman of the Utah Fair Parks Boards of Directors, said a lot of accommodation was being added to the area, making the need for available food more important. However, this market has the potential and the space to grow in different buildings and areas of the fairgrounds.
We want to grow it organically over time, but hopefully in a few years it will be somewhere you can come during the week.
–Chris Wharton, Salt Lake City Council
Lewis said organizers plan to grow slowly, but will expand to meet demand. “We think it’s going to grow and develop over time and become something really, really enjoyable for the community,” he said.
A long term goal is to open the market every day. Mullenax said they hope to integrate the activities already at the fairgrounds into the international marketplace and create a unique gathering place that will represent the state to visitors.
Mullenax said it has partners to help entrepreneurs participating in the marketplace learn about funding opportunities and how to retail their products, which will help vendor businesses grow.
“I hope if we do our job well, it will become a springboard for people who want to retail their products,” he said.
Chris Wharton, another Salt Lake City Council member, said it’s important to have a place where people can get food and crafts and also have an experience.
“We want to grow it organically over time, but hopefully in a few years it’ll be somewhere you can come…during the week,” Wharton said.
He said it will take some time for the event to grow into the space, but they already have plans for it to continue to grow even more.