Productive People - The crew working to remodel and get West Seattle Produce Company up and running are from left Ed Deloughy, Michael Picard, Maria Eickelmann, Bruce McPherson, Christine Fuller, and Mike Cairns. Not pictured, Bob Klein.
West Seattle Produce Company to open May 1 on Fauntleroy Way
Fresh produce, flowers, and much more planned
Bruce McPherson, Mike Cairns, and Bob Klein are the partners in the new West Seattle Produce Company located on the former Huling Brothers used car lot on the west side of the street at 4755 Fauntleroy Way S.W. Klein is the owner of The Corner Market in Pike Place Market, a Seattle institution. Klein approached Cairns, former owner of "The Best of Seattle Coupon Book" and got him involved.
The company will open May 1st with a soft opening on April 30th.
"We initially gave up on the Huling property because we were dealing with another agent who couldn't get a deal done. Then John Wunder of Associates West called me and said they would make one of the lots available to us, so we negotiated a contract," said Cairns.
The lot is 30,000 square feet and the company has big plans for it.
They will have a full nursery with trees, shrubs and plants and flowers year round supplied by Rich's Nursery in Redmond. The company will also carry starter plants like tomato plants and peas from farmers in Carnation. On the north end of the property on weekends they will feature local crafts and artisans who want to bring their wares for sale. The company will offer free delivery of flowers and produce for the office throughout West Seattle with a $25 minimum order.
There will be a handicap ramp for universal access to the building on the property. That building, the former sales office, has been completely remodeled, painted "tomato red and farmer green" but all in a very environmentally sensitive way. The counter tops are recycled basketball court, the deck has been repaired and updated, largely with recycled lumber, and many parts of the building interior are built with re-sawn or re-planed lumber. "Our whole thought was to keep everything as green as we can," said Cairns.
Directly in front of the building the berries, cherries and other fruit will be displayed atop recycled shipping crates that have been painted to match the building exterior. "Wet produce" will be kept inside the building where it can be kept hydrated throughout the day.
The former signage and 100 foot Huling Brothers flagpole are even being recyled. "We've got a 20' x 30' flag and the lights in the lot will provide great illumination year round, even on the few gloomy days we have," Cairns said laughing. "The sign at the north side of the lot...we'll pull out the used cars part but keep the yellow arrow going around and put our logo inside and paint that out with our colors."
Cairns marketing background has come in handy in the preparations. He's art directing everything. "We've got so many cool props, an old truck with our logo on it, that was donated, an 80 year old tender we are refinishing that will be in the center with produce in it." They will have two wheeled fish carts on site for product. Old wagon wheels, a 1920's baby cradle, metal milk cans, and other antiques will add to the atmosphere.
The deck will have a built in bin with root vegetables, and a series of 6' x 8' tables with product on them. "The flowers you get down at Pike Place Market? They are from a friend of mine in Carnation so we will be carrying Market Place flowers," Cairns said.
Also in the building are a prep room, retail food sales area and an office. Just outside the prep room is a refrigerated truck permanently in place.
The company will carry Vashon Island Coffee, Beecher's Cheese, Paparadelles Pasta and Oils, and Smith Brothers Farm dairy products for all organic milk and cheese. "We will probably be around 30% organic in all our products. We will be as organic as we can," Cairns explained.
Through his connections to the Pike Place Market merchants he's garnered a lot of interest, "Everyone wants to come in. We have to look and see where we have room and if we have a hole or some room we want to bring people in from Pike Place Market."
"We want an open air market," said Cairns," Our theme is turn of the century."
The soft open on April 30 will feature coffee tasting, Smith Brothers Farm dairy products, and "Maybe some music, we're working on that," Cairns said.
As for music on the site on a regular basis he said, "We hope to build a stage on the site so throughout the summer months we can have live music on Friday and Saturday nights from 4 to 7 PM."
"More than anything else we want to be part of the community, be a fun place for somebody to come and shop and sit down and chat and we'll teach them all about produce," said Cairns. They will have recipes and 'recipes of the week.' "We want this to feel like shopping at Pike Place Market." They want to support local teams, join local organizations and build relationships.
The company has plans for more markets in the northwest." Issaquah is next. "This one is our blueprint for future growth. We have to build this out, see what customers like, and open Issaquah in March of next year."
They have four significant themes, intended to promote family activities. Spring and Summer Harvest, featuring lots of local produce, Fall Harvest, offering pumpkins for kids and much more, Winter Festival offering Christmas Trees, great lighting and more children's activities, and Spring Flowers with plants featured to make your own garden grow.
West Seattle Produce will be open seven days a week from 6:30 AM to 8 PM every day. Their phone number is 206-906-9727.