Anne Weeks: Tofino Public Market draws crowds into downtown core

The Tofino Public Market is creating a nice big buzz on Saturdays in the downtown core.

The market director said the Saturday happening on the Village Green is going stronger than ever, about a decade into its history.

“Most of the reserved vendors from last year renewed this year, and for the first time, we had a waiting list for reserved spots,” Anne Weeks said as crowds milled, browsed and feasted around a maze of tents.

“The community is making it a regular thing they attend,” she said.

The numbers are reflecting big interest, she said, noting that Tourism Tofino’s visitor survey indicates 25% of visitors are interested in the market as an attraction.

In a town that scores a million visits a year – not all in the market season, mind you – that’s a lot of shoppers.

Under tents or in the open, vendors are selling stuff that’s local, handmade, unique, diverse – from driftwood and silver pendants to tamales. It’s a good mix and it attracts vendors from around the Island and even around BC, Weeks said.

“We wanted to keep a vibrant, busy market,” she said.

Weeks is a musician with Smalltown Empire – and she loves the local performers as well as touring musicians that drop by to entertain.

“And I love the community feeling of the vendors, everyone wanting to help everyone else, wanting to make it a good market,” she said.

While there’s occasional debate on whether public markets help or hinder local retail traffic, Weeks said feedback from surrounding retailers is favourable.

“The market helps draw people into the downtown core and therefore creates extra spinoff business for businesses surrounding the market. The feedback I’ve gotten is really supportive of (the market),” she said.

Tofino Public Market is held Saturdays from 10-2 on the Village Green.