Weekends start Thursday on Spokane's South Perry Street...

By Richard White, October 11, 2013

Spokane's South Perry Street has evolved into a fun, funky and quirky urban village with its Thursday market being the kick-off to the community's weekend. However, I am told that The Shop was the catalyst for Spokane's hipsters to settle the community and create what is quickly becoming a vibrant hipster playground.  While the Thursday Market has put the community on the map, it was The Shop which started out as a "coffee shop" but has morphed into the coffee shop by day and bar by night that was the catalyst for the communities revitalization.    

The parking lot in front of The Shop is where the 20 or so vendors pitch their tents every Thursday for the happy hour market that attracts hundreds of locals of all ages and backgrounds.  The Shop parking lot has become the town square hosting numerous other events like Outdoor Summer Theatre, Tomato Festival and Harvest Festival.  I love the fact that the parking lot has organically evolved into a temporary programming space for the community without the need to hire a consultant to develop a master plan based on numerous community meetings and that millions weren't spent on redesigning it.  The parking lot works just fine to host events when the time is right and then at other times it can be a parking lot which is also needed more and more as the street expands.

 

The Shop is the gateway to South Perry.  Looking every bit like an old gas station complete with the garage doors. It is also home to the vibrant Thursday market. 

One of the anchor vendors at the market is guy with the portable pizza oven.  By looks of the line up to buy pizza it is very good. Many people where grabbing a pizza and heading home after shopping the market.  

Yes the market does sell vegetables! 

One of the more unique vendors was a guy selling sling shots.  I was tempted to buy one to shoot the squirrels and magpies in our backyard. But I expect I would miss and hit someone's window.  

Another unique feature of South Perry market is that the jewellery making taught by a man and the students are mostly boys.  How good it that! 

South Perry Street has a wonderful diversity of small shops, from Yoga Studio to Windfall Thrift store, from Him & Her Vintage Furniture to a Windmill building that sells over 1,000 herbs.  Coming soon is South Perry Street's own craft brewery.  It even has a Buddhist Temple which is home to the Spokane Oban Festival.  Jane Jacobs the 1960s guru of community vitality who preached the importance of preserving the small local mom and pop shopping streets would have loved South Perry.   

Creating pedestrian friendly streets is not about designer sidewalks and furniture with custom lamp posts.  It is about shops that cater to the everyday needs of the people who live in the neighbourhood.  South Perry is home to a dentist, therapeutic massage and veterinary clinic. There is also a school backing on to the street. Creating animated pedestrian streets is as much about the diversity of things to do as it about the density of people living there. 

 

Not every community can boast having a windmill on their high street. Lorien's sells over 1,000 herbs not only to locals but has become a destination.   

South Perry is also home to The Windfall thrift store, where Brenda got a colourful abstract encaustic painting for 10 cents.   

This little cottage house is an example of how old homes can be converted into small shops where "mom and pop" retail can thrive. 

One of my measures of a good pedestrian street is how many "window licking" photo ops are available.  This is a nice one from South Perry.  

South Perry Pizza is a hoping place on Thursday nights with people of all ages and backgrounds enjoying each other's company.  There are no TV screens, just local art on the wall and friends sitting around the table.  

The Shop offers locals a spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It is a great place to hang out.  A sense of community is created by the public spaces where people can meet.