A new queer and trans-owned business on Front Street is cultivating creativity and promoting pride in downtown Coupeville.
Meet Market is part art supply store, part public studio, part community center, and its owners hope it will also be a haven for anyone who needs a safe place to be themselves.
The store’s founders, partners Andrew Ziehl and Cade Roach, moved to Coupeville about six years ago. Although they have been living in town for a relatively short time, the couple are deeply involved in the community; Roach serves as Vice Chairman of the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association and Ziehl sits on the board of the Evey’s Landing National Historic Reserve.
Meet Market has been in the works for a long time. Roach and Ziehl had floated the idea of a community space for about three years before the company’s official opening, which took place on May 27.
The market is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. During retail hours, anyone can enter the store or drop by the back garden of the building to relax and make art at no cost. Free and shared art materials are available in the market for people to use, provided by donations.
“We aim to stock quality supplies for both tourists and our community,” Ziehl said. “Someone can come in, grab some art supplies, sit and paint in our back patio, or stroll down Front Street and make some art of one of the amazing views.”
After hours, the market hosts classes and workshops led by local artists. Current offerings, including a ‘walk-in draw’ for teens and a ‘heART journals’ workshop, are all art-focused, though Roach said the market is open to accepting teachers having knowledge in a variety of subjects such as native plants or the island. the story.
“It doesn’t have to be anything artistic,” Roach said. “We just want to create a space where people who know cool niche topics can come and tell other members of the community about them.”
The couple’s vision for the space is that there will always be something new to explore, without the pressure of a major commitment of time or money. Roach said they try to keep all of their offerings affordable and are willing to cover costs for those who otherwise couldn’t afford to attend workshops in the marketplace.
But Ziehl and Roach want the space to be more than just a business; they also hope it will be a safe and empowering place for all who enter.
In the three weeks since opening the business, it has already seen great success on this front.
On opening day, Roach and Ziehl hung a Pride flag in front of their store – the first Pride flag Roach had seen in the historic Coupeville neighborhood since arriving. Within a week, Roach said, other Pride flags began popping up all over downtown.
The first weekend the market was open, children and teenagers flocked and started to get creative. Parents were amazed, Roach added, and many said their children were generally not so quick to open up, relax or express themselves.
It was exactly what the owners hoped for.
“We really wanted to create a space that was like, you can walk in and be yourself and not only feel safe, but feel recognized for who you are, like you don’t have to hide any part of yourself- same,” Roach said. “…If someone had done this for me when I was younger, it wouldn’t have taken me 30 years to realize my identity.”
Roach and Ziehl are both queer, and Roach is transgender and non-binary. For them, demonstrating to store visitors who may struggle with their own identity that they can have families, own businesses and live the life they dream of without compromising their authenticity is an important part of Meet Market’s mission.
To that end, Meet Market is hosting a small Pride Festival, which is happening this weekend. The event kicked off on Friday June 17 and will continue through Sunday June 19, with collaborative art projects, live music, puzzles and board games, art workshops, and yoga on Sunday mornings. A full schedule of this weekend’s Pride events can be found on Meet Market’s Instagram page @heymeetmarket.
Roach said it was the first Coupeville Pride event the couple had seen since moving to town, and they hoped to involve more Front Street businesses in the years to come.
Meet Market is located at 7 Front Street in Coupeville.