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Sunday, May 24, 2020

Makeworth Market makes it work

Bellingham business celebrates one-year anniversary amidst COVID-19 restrictions

The exterior of Makeworth Market dressed with balloons for their one year anniversary celebration. // Photo courtesy of Corey Silversmith

By Victoria Corkum

To celebrate their one-year anniversary, downtown Bellingham’s Makeworth Market reopened for a few hours on Monday, May 11.

The Makeworth team opened their doors to serve fresh pastries and offer any coffee drink off the menu for the price of $1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“They had it set up fabulous,” said Jennifer Walters, Downtown Bellingham Partnership retail advocate. “They had a full staff working, everyone was keeping their distance and they were gloved and masked. They were set up so that you were distanced apart outside. They were very organized, their safety protocols were on point.”

Walters said that in order to cultivate a sense of community yet maintain a safe social distancing protocol, Makeworth Market offered space outside the front doors of their business where patrons could order drinks and visit while the staff prepared orders inside. 

“Unfortunately you can’t see smiles with everyone wearing masks but everyone was smiling,” Walters said. “You could see it in their eyes. The excitement of being outside in the sunshine, it was a welcoming, celebratory energy.”

During Makeworth Market’s first year in business, they attracted a wide range of support from a variety of visitors because of it’s charming and welcoming nature, Walters said.

“They’ve been a huge part of downtown since they opened,” Walters said. “They’ve been a gathering place for everyone from business people to students, their product is amazing, they have some of the best coffee in town and a beautiful space.”

For some, like Walters, it seems as though Makeworth Market has always been a part of the downtown district, despite it being a fairly young business. According to Makeworth Market co-owner Corey Silversmith, being able to celebrate the market’s first year of being in business has been astounding.

“It was surreal,” Silversmith said. “It was an incredible time to reflect on all that had happened and changed. It was a unique time being that we’re mid-pandemic but we were able to do a safe celebration where everyone was spaced out and able to enjoy coffee.”

Upon opening in 2019, Makeworth Market was designed as a safe space for those who simply want to connect. Makeworth Market has become a business that flourishes on kinship and networking, Silversmith said.

For some this place is just another downtown café, but for Bellingham resident and long-time Makeworth patron, Dejah Kutrovski, it’s a lifeline.

“I don’t know that there’s another good space in Bellingham where people come together like that,” Kutrovski said. “I don’t feel like I would have found that community and been able to meet as many people if Makeworth didn’t exist. It was the basis of how I knew Bellingham and how I became a ‘Bellinghamster.’” 

Kutrovski’s partner is the coffee manager at Makeworth. She has been able to watch the company’s journey from day one. 

“The first time I walked into Makeworth I knew it was going to be that cool place,” Kutrovski said. “It started off with a bang. The first few days were complete chaos because it was so busy. I don’t think anyone knew that Bellingham was going to love Makeworth as much as they did.”

Kutrovski said she waited with anticipation for the one-year anniversary, as she hoped the community would offer support to a business that had given them an intentional space to gather.

“I was shocked by how many people were there and how happy everyone was,” Kutrovski said. “Everyone in line was talking to each other and it was a really fun time. There was a really nice energy and excitement. I went twice through the line.”

Although patrons were not allowed inside the building, Kutrovski said that Makeworth Market managed to create a safe space for community members to feel connected outside the café.

“The anticipation of having your favorite coffee in Bellingham was so nice,” Kutrovski said. “Missing that for so long and finally getting to have that one thing you’ve been craving was really nice. It was like going home to your happy place.”

This one day celebration marks more than an anniversary, Walters said. It was a moment of recognition that both Bellingham and Whatcom County are easing slowly into recovery.

“It set a standard of showing those safety protocols and still offering a fabulous product,” Walters said. “They delivered their product during this time and it was great.”

Makeworth Market designed their anniversary to meet the phase one demands of “Washington’s Phased Approach” implemented by Gov. Jay Inslee on May 5. Once phase two begins, restaurants like Makeworth Market will be allowed to host guests to 50% capacity.

“As we’ve been closed almost two months, which is crazy to think about, we’ve realized the exact thing we’ve been all about has been the thing that has been temporarily banned and people don’t have the ability to get together right now,” Silversmith said. “Going forward [Makeworth’s mission] is going to be a key component of our continued vision.”

Inside Makeworth Market on the wall is a large stencil in black letters that reads, ‘WE BELONG TOGETHER.’ Silversmith says this is the vision and promise of the business.

“It’s this idea that together we can do great things and we believe that life is sweeter when it’s lived within community and surrounded with great people,” Silversmith said. “As for what the future does hold for our community I think that we are going to come back stronger than before.”

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