Downtown Spokane’s Main Market Faces Closure After a Hard Road to Recovery Post-pandemic

Downtown Spokane’s Main Market Co-op, a cornerstone of the community, is in danger of shutting its doors, posing a significant risk to food security in the city’s downtown core. The market stands out as Spokane’s sole independent, nonprofit grocery cooperative, owned by community members. Its mission goes beyond commerce; it’s a hub for feeding and supporting downtown residents and the broader community. However, its unique model, while fostering community engagement and local economic reinvestment, also leaves it vulnerable to economic turbulence.

The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to Main Markets operations. Before the outbreak, its busy lunch counter and steady foot traffic both from downtown office workers and attendees at the nearby convention center, sustained its operations. However, pandemic-related restrictions and a decline in downtown activity crippled its revenue streams. While federal Paycheck Protection Program loans provided a temporary lifeline, they have since been exhausted, leaving the Main Market to cope with the financial instability. The city of Spokane estimates that foot traffic will be back to pre-pandemic levels by 2025 but that may not be soon enough for the struggling market.

Despite Main Market’s dedication to serving customers of all income levels with affordable and locally sourced goods, sustaining operations has become increasingly challenging. Efforts to counteract the impact include price reductions on essential items and community dinners, aimed at providing nutritious meals at affordable prices.

As the Main Market faces an uncertain future, the need for community support grows more urgent. The potential closure not only jeopardizes access to fresh, affordable food but also threatens to deepen food insecurity in downtown Spokane. With the fate of Main Market in the balance, the role community-driven businesses play in fostering resilience and addressing societal challenges is of vital importance to a thriving community.