This article was originally posted May 4, 2010 by the Hard News Café.
By Paul Lewis Siddoway
PARADISE–Linda Thomas was a vendor at last year’s Paradise Market. She said not only did she love it, but also people apparently loved her and her product. She recycles wool sweaters and turns them into mittens.
“I actually did great,” Thomas said, when asked how her product sold in the midsummer markets. “It’s such a unique product that people buy them for Christmas presents. I usually sold ten pairs a day.”
A friend received a pair as a gift and Thomas thought they were a good idea. Starting off as a hobby, Thomas went to thrift stores for materials, made a pair of her own, made them for friends, and turned it in to a family business, saying her parents are unemployed and entrepreneurs, doing everything out of their home.
Thomas has a brother living in Logan and she said he would be doing most of the markets this year because Thomas and her husband relocated to Colorado after a job change, but she will try to come back once or twice.
“We weren’t really there to profit off the mittens,” Thomas said. “I was there more to interact with other people. It’s a fun item and we’d always buy fresh fruits and vegetables and support other people in their hobbies and their lives.”
Because Paradise’s market is new and still small, Thomas’s story is not a typical one. Melissa Prosser, one of the market’s committee members, said, “Most people make back their fee money, but some don’t, or don’t make as much as they would in other places. Last year it took quite a bit of donated money, time and effort to run the market. We intentionally kept fees low because we care about our vendors.”
Rhonda Miller, another committee member, tries to pad the costs by seeking out and applying for grants. She explained they get vendors from all over Utah, as well as the neighboring counties in Idaho. Miller added Thomas was not the only vendor who did not sell fruits and vegetables, but others sold soap, lotion, jelly, aprons, fishing flies and art among other things.
Christy Holmes, a vendor and Paradise resident, said, “Whoever came up with a novelty item stole the show.” Blackberries and popcorn balls were always a favorite, she added.
Her husband, Dave Holmes, said, “If you can think of it, so can sell it.”
The market is not just a place for people to sell their produce; Prosser added it is a meeting place for the whole community.
“Nobody felt pressured to buy anything,” Thomas said. “Some people just came to listen to music.”
She added markets in general are great, even just for the social aspect. “It seems that people don’t even know their neighbors.”
Residents of Paradise pride themselves on the small town feel, Christy Holmes said. “I like the atmosphere here. It’s a community thing. Everyone in the community came out to visit.”
The market wasn’t only friendly toward Paradise residents.
“There was a family that drove all the way from Deweyville, near Tremonton several times to sell produce,” Prosser said. “One week, their old van ran out of gas on the way home. The Paradise Fire Department brought the fire truck over and got them going again. It was awesome.”
Last year was the first year the market was running, and over the two and a half months it ran on Wednesday nights, more people would come every night despite the fact Paradise is out-of-the-way, Thomas said.
“Paradise is such a great community,” she said. “If I were ever to move back to Cache, I’d move to Paradise. It was so much fun. Everyone should go. My husband would even come, and that’s saying a lot.”
The market will run this year from June 30 to Sept. 22. For more information, check out the market website.