- Griffin Swartzell
Originally, the project was envisioned in the former Chrissy Fowler Lumber building at 117 W. Vermijo Ave., ideal for a tie-in to nearby America the Beautiful park. Early renderings showed space for not just retail and dining, but gardens and food distribution. By the time the first reported opening dates were announced, three years later, the market had moved to the former Gazette building, then later the Carter Payne building, which is now Local Relic’s location. Several changes in project leadership and partnerships have occurred. Its current location, the Art Deco building, was announced in August.
When we visit on opening day, we see six vendors: Azteca Gourmet tamales, The Cheese People, CoS’Bucha, Crown Cakes, The Pickle Lady, and tea vendors A Garden of Healing. We’re told CocoPrana coconut-based foods has since set up shop. Come December, the market should also host Soul Water Coffee, Bonbon Bombardier craft candies and Bloom and Press fresh flowers. January should usher in the Colorado Crepe Company, and come March, faith-based food charity High Plains Helping Hands should join. A market bar’s also planned for early 2018.
Board Treasurer Chris Cipoletti says a few earlier-announced entities have dropped out, and that the market still seeks a meat vendor. Ironically, Mike Callicrate of Ranch Foods Direct helped spearhead the project five years ago and was involved in contentious dialogue around prior-planned locations. RFD ally Dave Anderson of Peak to Plains says RFD offered to take two booths at PPM, but required “adequate power and drainage for commercial refrigeration equipment” and “were told that we could not make wall penetrations to reach a compressor and that there is no place to position the compressor on the exterior of the building.”
“We wanted them to be a part of it,” says Cipoletti, “but we can’t just drill holes in the wall. We don’t own the building — we lease it.”
Callicrate says PPM is ”more like a scaled down, year-round farmers market where a few vendors table their wares. The public market we had envisioned would have included space to operate the business as well as sell to the public. I can’t see how a small (very) business can afford the additional rent and labor to separate their production space from their sales location. When the baker, butcher, brewer, chocolate and sandwich maker are all working in the market producing what they sell, the place comes alive and stays alive.”
Nonetheless, Pikes Peak Market at least has been born.