Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Marketing brings buzz to south valley

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey Farmers' Market drew people from as far away as Charleston, S.C. Judy Gore and James Murray decided to make an unscheduled stop at the market Thursday as they were driving from Mountain Home to Sun Valley. Photo by David N. Seelig

Although Hailey resident David Blampied admits to the occasional trip to Twin Falls for a Costco run, Thursday's dinner was fresh from the farm.

"I'm on the Atkins' Diet, so I've got lemon chicken sausage from the sausage guy and ribs," he said. "I just decided I didn't want to cook tonight so I thought I'd come down here and get something fun."

Blampied perused the al fresco aisles at the Hailey Farmers' Market, one of many offerings drawing people out of doors on Thursdays.

Artists, farmers and retailers coordinated efforts to enrich summer evenings for visitors and residents, and on July 6, the "First Thursday" event drew a stampede of people to downtown Hailey and Bellevue.

"It's a whole community thing," said Vintage Gypsy owner Kim Garvin, who, along with Iconoclast Books co-owner Sarah Hedrick, organized the South Valley Merchants' Alliance.

The group, including merchants from Hailey and Bellevue, formed in order to promote the retail shopping options available in the two communities. The First Thursday events, begun this spring, are an outgrowth of that.

"The businesses that are involved have doubled," Garvin said. "Everybody's doing something special."

Cross-promotional efforts are indicative of the alliance's belief that individual success becomes everyone's success.

"The more people you are, the better off you are," Garvin said. "We're such a strong group."

Last Thursday evening, the doors of the Emanuel Church Thrift Store were open. Marilyn Shilue, the shop's coordinator, beckoned passers-by with chips and salsa.

"We've been here forever," she said. "We just want to be a part of what's going on."

Down the street, artists' and farmers' markets were prompting both scheduled and unscheduled visits.

Deb Shrum, of Mountain Home, was entertaining out-of-state guests, James Murray and Judy Gore, from Charleston, S.C.

"We spotted this on the way up ... to Sun Valley," Shrum said. "We decided we'd stop on the way down."

Gore had her eye out for a gift for a friend, while Murray was enjoying Idaho's mountains and friendly people.

Strolling behind the travelers were Woodside residents Suzanne and Patrick Buchanan, with kids Elise, 2 months, and Braden, 2 years.

With the tots packed up in a baby trailer, the Buchanans hopped on their bikes for the weekly trek north.

"I love it," she said. "I've been here every week. I always go to the artists' market to get (Braden's) face painted. Thursday's my big day."

For Garvin and other south valley promoters, the success of the big day depends on individual efforts.

"We're all working for the common good," Garvin said. "We get people walking around, and it's not because I'm having a party, it's because everybody's having a party."

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