A Bit of History
“If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own,” was the sign-off used by Long time Bay Area radio newsman Wes “Scoop” Nisker. A variant on that phrase, captures the spirit of Ukiah’s oldest, newish business, the Westside Renaissance Market:
“If you don’t like the economy, go out and make one of your own.”
Our business, opened in June 2009, is the latest incarnation of the Westside Market, Ukiah’s last remaining neighborhood market. The market has been at the same location since at least 1937, possibly since as far back as 1877, in some form.
When we acquired the financially challenged market we added the word “renaissance” to the store name for a number of important reasons. The word implies a sense of renewal and progress, but with a thoughtful look to the past to make sure that what was of importance and value is brought forward.
It is also a term associated with having a wide focus. Hence, even though it is a small store, you will discover that the Westside Renaissance Market has an amazing variety of locally produced food items, from basics like local produce, meats and bulk beans to gourmet treats like caramels, preserves Cafe Beaujolais panforte, and lots more.
Indeed, one of the store’s objectives is to bring together under one roof all of the best locally produced food options in Mendocino County and the regions nearby.
The market also features great to go items prepared by local chefs ranging from from grilled chicken wraps, to entrees like pumpkin chevre risoto, Shepherd’s pie and lasagna. But, you can also stop in if you just need to grab a soda and an ice cream bar or one of the amazing pies, which are baked using locally-grown flour.
The Westside Renaissance Market is also very much about opposing the trend toward cheaper, low quality goods.
Fair prices are better for everyone in the long-run than cheap food prices. A secure, sustainable food production system must include a diversity of small local producers, not just a few centralized mega-farms. As most people know, the drive for the cheapest products ultimately produces artificially low prices that hide the high costs to society of things such as shifting jobs overseas to wherever holds the lowest employment and environmental standards, high fossil fuel use, degraded soil quality, decreased nutrition, and increased pesticide concentrations.
The race to produce or sell evermore, faster and cheaper, before someone else does also tends to erode loyalty to community, to employees and to customers.
The Westside Renaissance Market strives to pay local producers rates that cover the cost of making clean, quality products and earning a living wage in this community. By supporting us you help yourself and your community to a healthier future.
The Westside Renaissance Market is also about reconnecting food and information, i.e., stories and knowledge about where and how our food is produced. Knowing more about your food makes eating more personal and nourishing.
An early market’s slogan “You may never need to leave the Westside again,” hints at another goal of the Westside Renaissance Market, to help area residents reduce their use of cars. Having a safe, clean and well-stocked neighborhood store is a win for everyone. Families can send the kids down to the store where they might pick up the milk along with a Lovers Lane’s Ukiah-made honey sticks.
The Westside Renaissance Market has recently begun expanding its scope to include a wider range of quality, family-made goods from the greater North Bay region as part of an alliance with North Bay Made.
Is it possible to revitalize the old-fashioned, neighborhood-scale market?
Keep an eye on the Westside Renaissance Market to find out.