Roosevelt Market tradition adds charm to East End neighborhood
The Roosevelt Market is a community touchstone for Boise’s East End. It’s where the chicken salad is a lunchtime favorite and where regulars can still run a tab. It’s where Roosevelt Elementary kids swarm to for after school-snacks and where the community gathers at the monthly block party.
It’s one of a kind in Boise and the venerable building is again for sale, possibly putting this popular business at risk.
The building at 311 N. Elm St., Boise, is on the market today listed at $399,800 through building owner Kealy Baughman’s Trail 27 realty.
Baughman and her husband, Mike, purchased the building in 2013, but now it’s time to sell, Kealy Baughman says.
“Being a realtor for many years and selling a ton of East End real estate, I appreciate its value,” she says. “Even though it didn’t make great sense as an investment, we snatched it up so that someone didn’t buy it and tear it down or change it from a market into something else, like so many others.”
Neighborhood markets have closed across the city in the past several years. The Boise Bench Market, which sold organic milk and vegetables to its neighborhood, closed in May. Jerry’s 27th Street Market closed in June 2016 and is slated to be torn down for a housing development. The former Hollywood Market in Boise’s North End closed in 2011 and is now a popular yoga studio.
Market co-owner Susan Wilder and her business partner Nicki Monroe have been here before, Wilder says.
“Not owning the building causes a lot of anxiety,” she says. “Hopefully, whoever buys the building will be able to set up a contract with us, and we’ll be able to keep the store.”
Their lease ends at the close of the year.
There also is an upstairs apartment with a tenant and several employes in the mix, including Wilder’s son who runs the restaurant side and Monroe’s grandson, who cooks.
“I am going to look into what kinds of contingencies I can put on the sale, but I don’t think there are many,” Kealy Baughman says. “We’re marketing it as an investment property, and encouraging whomever buys it to keep it a market. It’s such a great asset. It’s a community hub.”
The store sells an eclectic mix of pantry staples, soda, beer and wine, knickknacks and more. Its deli counter is busy at lunch and dinner. After school, what Wilder calls the “sugar rush” happens as kids from Roosevelt Elementary across the street descend on the front counter seeking candy. At happy hour, the Roosevelt serves appetizers, beer and wine to folks who relax on the patio. Then there are the block parties that happen on the third Friday of each month from May through September.
The neighborhood would not be the same without the Roosevelt Market, says Joshua Roper, who lives with his partner Johanna DeJong two blocks over on Bruce Street.
“One of my good friends who lives down the street met his wife at one of the block parties,” Roper says. “Personally I love the Roosevelt Market because every time I go in, if Susan is working, I can be assured I get a serious hug and and a large dose of no B.S.”
“I think we offer a good dose of mothering,” Wilder says.
Monroe and Wilder bought the market business 13 years ago. But the store has been there for more than 100 years. “We were able to trace the ownership back to 1918, Wilder says.
Monroe grew up in the neighborhood and worked at the Roosevelt as a teenager. Wilder worked in a similar store in Rupert where she grew up.
Boise musician Ned Evett’s parents live around the corner. He stops in often to visit and has played at past block parties.
“It’s not just a corner store,” he says. “It’s that third place where you go for more than cigarettes and beer. People can get that stuff anywhere. This is important as a community gathering place. The level of interaction there is pretty dramatic. I think educating the next buyer to how important this is will be key. It’s the last family-owned independent neighborhood market in Boise. It would be an enormous loss as a function of gentrification if it were to close.”
Even with all the best intentions, Baughman will not be able to control what happens to the building once the sale is final. And in the current cultural paradigm, where even the status quo is a moving target, its fate is unsure.
“It was saved once,” Evett says. “I don’t know if something like that can happen again, but I hope so.”