Business Community

Business Spotlight: Patterson’s Market facing eviction

Posted on December 19th, 2022 By:

Clipped to a strawberry box and sandwiched between bags of mistletoe and the cash register hangs a legal document with a handwritten message.

“We are being evicted”, “Landlords shutting us down,” it reads.

In less than two weeks, the open-air Patterson’s Market will close after 43 years of business. An attorney representing the property landlords — 56th Street & 38th Avenue, LLC — issued a 30-day “Termination of Tenancy” notice to business owners Richard and Shelli Patterson on Nov. 28.

The notice requires the Pattersons to be off the property by the time the calendar flips to 2023. It’s not a matter of being tardy with the rent. The Pattersons are all paid up. The landlords just want to do something else with the property.

Hailey Patterson works the cash register next to a notice of Patterson Farm Stand’s eviction. Julie Warrick Ammann

Public records show 56th Street & 38th Avenue, LLC was established in 2005 by the Stroh Frederich Estate.

Old-school charm at Patterson’s

If this was a Hallmark Christmas movie, the couple in love would inevitably find their way to Patterson’s Market to shop for a Christmas tree or sip some fresh pressed apple cider. It’s old-school classic charm at Patterson’s.

Bruce Springsteen’s, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” blasts out from speakers above. String lights hang from wooden posts decorated with handmade vintage signs. A simple event tent houses the seasonal treats — fresh evergreen wreaths and Kissing Balls at Christmas, spring flower baskets for Mother’s Day, fruits and vegetables in the summer, and pumpkins and harvest bounty in the Fall.

Shelli Patterson (left) and her 28-year-old daughter Hailey, working on a Friday night at Patterson’s Market. Julie Warrick Ammann

The goods come from local or regional sources and Patterson’s is family owned.

“When I was a week old, I was up on the counter in a carrier,” says 28-year-old Hailey Patterson, who helps run the family business with her mom and dad, Shelli and Rick Patterson, Gig Harbor high school sweethearts. “I’ve been by mom’s side my whole life. She didn’t really have an option,” laughs Hailey.

Community rallied to help Patterson’s

Being by her mom’s side has meant working through the tumultuous last few years, sometimes without pay.

The Pattersons endured the pandemic without assistance from small-business relief programs. Inflation and gas-price spikes impacted purchasing power and price points. Even the weather was temperamental, causing a late growing season this year and delaying produce to the stand.

When the Pattersons’ savings account took a nose dive, a GoFundMe campaign launched by a longtime customer brought the family hope for a bright future. The fund raised almost $14,000 to help the Pattersons get back on track.

It’s a chilly Friday night, just eight days before Christmas. Shelli, Hailey, and employee Alice — the family calls her their “second daughter” — are making Kissing Balls, a classic old custom of tying evergreen branches together in a cluster.

Kissing balls Julie Warrick Ammann

Once the fragrant decorated ball is hung in a doorway or entryway, those who pass underneath are believed to receive blessings and good tidings. Balls and wreaths of evergreen boughs, cut from locally grown Washington state trees, adorn the tent.

Disassembling history

The reality of an eviction notice they didn’t see coming tempers the spirit and magic of the holiday season for the Patterson family and staff.

The holiday season is always busy at Patterson’s. But this season, the impending end after more than four decades in business heightens the energy level.

As the boughs are assembled and decorated, and the trees are tied to car roofs, years of history are being disassembled and in some cases, permanently demolished.

One red-jacketed “tree guy” supports the ladder, as the other tree guy demos an old wooden structure on the Patterson lot. Preparations for an eviction legally scheduled for six days after Christmas are in motion.

Demolition of a shed at Patterson’s. Julie Warrick Ammann

In the opposite corner is another old structure, now covered in moss, tucked away behind compost bins and seasonal supplies. This is the original Patterson’s stand.

In the late 1970s, Hailey says her dad sold candy from the stand on his family’s property along 38th Avenue. It’s just down the street from the current location.

Only 17 years old, the future local business owner had to rely on help from his dad. Rick was too young to purchase a business license by himself.

A Gig Harbor throwback

Rick Patterson’s original family home (privately owned today, but not by the Pattersons), resides between a new housing development and a medical office. Horses graze in the pasture, a living time capsule to a simpler time, a pre-suburbanization Gig Harbor.

Today, the Patterson family lives across the street from the property where it all started with candy sold by a teenager from a roadside stand.

It’s a “very quaint nice local business,” Denise Graves said as she and her family inspect the selection of trees on the Patterson lot.

Tree prices range from $39 to $299, depending on height and variety. The price includes baling and securing the tree to your vehicle. The varieties are Douglas Fir, Premium Noble, Natural Noble, Nordman Fir, and flocked trees.

The Graves family looks for a tree at Patterson’s. Julie Warrick Ammann

Graves read about Patterson’s Market on social media.

“We like to support local people,” she said.  After learning about the eviction notice, Graves reflected, it “makes me wish they could be around” longer.

In a Hallmark Christmas movie, there is always a happy ending with a problem solved and hope reignited. A community comes together to support one another. Fictional love wins.

Can this Gig Harbor institution find a happy ending? There are hundreds of kissing balls under the Patterson tent, promising blessings and good tidings to those who pass underneath.

Perhaps those blessings and good tidings will somehow once again find their way to Patterson’s Market in Gig Harbor.

Patterson’s Farm Market

Phone: (253) 851-8144

Location: 38th Ave NW & 56 St NW, Gig Harbor

Hours: 10am – 6pm

Shoppers browse Patterson’s Farm Stand recently. Julie Warrick Ammann