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Monday, 25 October 2010 00:00

Roosevelt Market: Heart of the Neighborhood

Roosevelt Market has been an important part of east Boise neighborhood life since the turn of the century.  In the 1920’s little boys in woolen knee-pants rushed in to get a jug of milk for Mom after playing kick-the-can in the street outside. In the 1950s giggling girls in plaid dresses and white ankle socks stopped to buy bubble gum on the way home from Roosevelt school.



When present-owners Susan Wilder and Nicki Monroe took over the market in 2004, they wanted to continue the legacy of friendly service and neighborhood involvement.  On a weekday morning you can sit by the sunny window, sip a cup of coffee, enjoy a homemade cupcake.  Customers arrive, in ones and twos, or in cheerful groups for a coffee break. Susan, who knows nearly everyone by name, greets people from the cash register, working the first of two 12-hour shifts.

Her neighbors laugh and tease her, talk politics and philosophy, exchange news of their pets and their gardens. “Oh yes, we get some great conversations going in here. People feel comfortable enough to joke around and say what’s on their minds,”  Susan says. She came to the market after spending many years working in Hospice. Over time there have been challenges as people in the neighborhood face a downturn in the economy. “Last winter was a tough one,” she remembers,”but people around here want to see the market stay in business and it seems like they pull together and make an effort to come in more often, to make sure we have customers.” Susan pauses. “It is like a family. We take care of each other.”

This is another difficult year, since the school across the street is closed for construction and Roosevelt Market has always been dependent on the
after-school visits of children for a large part of its livelihood.  “The school will open again next fall, but we are going to miss the kids coming in every afternoon.”

In the meantime, the neighborhood store provides staples of last minute shopping such as  eggs, milk, bread, and butter. Nicki’s famous potato salad is a popular favorite, bringing in customers from other parts of town.  The market has changed with the times and their stock isn’t all milk and sour gum balls.  Today they create sandwiches made to order for lunches, a variety of coffees and Italian sodas, baked goods from the Café de Paris, as well as an ever-changing selection of excellent Idaho wines.  As a special treat you can pick up wild Alaskan salmon brought in by a neighbor whose family has had fishing rights up there for generations—their family portrait hangs on the wall next to the wine rack.

Susan and Nicki know almost all their customers and local kids stop by to give them a hand now and then. Everyone one feels at home and welcome. If you had a cold last week Susan remembers. Roosevelt Market demonstrates that this kind of traditional neighborhood market does more than serve an area of town–it becomes the heart of the neighborhood: a meeting place, a resting place, and a place where people are known.


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