BELLINGHAM - The Bellingham Public Market is on the verge of closing, and the owner is asking the community for help.
On Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 29, market owner Stephen Trinkaus posted a letter online saying Terra Organica was on the verge of bankruptcy, which would lead to the closure of the market on Cornwall Avenue.
The Bellingham Public Market has several businesses in operation, including Seven Loaves Pizzeria, Trapeze café, Living Earth Herbs, Makizushi, Juice-It and Mount Baker Books.
In a phone interview, Trinkaus said the origin of the financial crunch took place after making a series of improvements to the business and the market, including new bulk bins and extensive remodeling. He also took on ownership of Seven Loaves Pizzeria and started Trapeze.
"Looking back, I can see I did a little more than I should have," Trinkaus said. "I thought we could scrape by during the summer (typically a slow time of year for the market) and get to the fall, when sales always pick up. This time the hole is too deep."
At this point Trinkaus can't turn to banks for loans and believes taking on further debt would merely postpone closure for a later date. He's hoping, instead, that if sales improve to a point similar to before the recession, it would get the market get through its rough patch.
Trinkaus' businesses employ 37 people, and closure of the market would impact about 60 people, he said.
"If it was just my family, that's one thing, but there are employees involved," Trinkaus said. "There has been a lot of tears from employees who enjoy working here."
Since the online posting Wednesday, the letter has generated interest in social media. A group called Bellingham Cash Mobs was organizing a cash mob event where people would converge at a specific date and time at a local store and agree to spend money on products.
Bellingham's Blue Horse Gallery has offered free admission to a Saturday, Sept. 1, event for people who present a receipt of more than $20 from Terra Organica.
"I'm overwhelmed," Trinkaus said, noting that in the first day after posting the letter he has received offers for a fundraiser and silent auction, as well other offers of help from customers. "It was crazy busy at lunch today (Aug. 30). If we can sustain this, we won't close."
Reach DAVE GALLAGHER at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2269.