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 and part community center, and its owners hope it will also be a haven for anyone who needs a safe place to be themselves.
The shop’s founders, partners Andrew Ziehl and Cade Roach, moved to Coupeville around six years ago. Despite living in town for a relatively short time, the pair is deeply involved in the community; Roach is vice president of the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association Board of Directors and Ziehl serves on the trust board for Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.
Meet Market has been a long time in the making. Roach and Ziehl had been floating the idea of a community space for about three years prior to the business’s grand opening, which took place May 27.
The market is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. During retail hours, anyone may come inside the shop or pass through to the building’s back garden to hang out and make art at no cost. Free, shared art materials are available at the market for people to use, provided by donations.
“We aim to stock quality supplies both for tourists and our community,” Ziehl said. “Someone can walk in, grab some art supplies, sit down and paint in our back patio, or take a walk down Front Street and make art of any of the incredible views.”
After hours, the market hosts classes and workshops taught by local artists. Current offerings, including a “Drop-in Draw” for teens and a “heART journals” workshop, are all art-focused, though Roach said the market is open to accepting teachers with knowledge in a variety of subjects such as native plants or island history.
“It doesn’t have to be anything artsy,” Roach said. “We just want to make a space where people who know cool, niche subject matters can come teach other community members about them.”
The couple’s vision for the space is that there will always be something new for folks to explore, without the pressure of a major time or monetary commitment. Roach said they try to keep all their offerings affordable and are willing to cover fees for those who might not otherwise be able to afford to attend workshops at the market.
But Ziehl and Roach want the space to be more than just another business; they also hope it will be a safe and affirming place for everyone who enters.
In the three weeks since the business has opened, it has already seen great success on that front.
On opening day, Roach and Ziehl hung a pride flag in front of their shop — the first pride flag Roach had seen in Coupeville’s historic district since moving there. Within a week, Roach said, other pride flags started cropping up all over downtown.
The first weekend the market was open, kids and teenagers poured in and began to get creative. Parents were amazed, Roach added, with many commenting that their children weren’t typically so quick to open up, relax or express themselves.
It was exactly what the owners hoped for.
“We really wanted to make a space that was like, you can come in and be yourself and not only feel safe, but feel acknowledged for who you are, like you don’t have to hide any part of yourself,” Roach said. “…If someone had done that 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 nonbinary. For them, demonstrating to shop visitors who may be struggling with their own identities that they can have families, own businesses and live the lives 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, ongoing this weekend. The event kicked off Friday, June 17 and will run through Sunday, June 19, featuring collaborative art projects, live music, puzzles and board games, art workshops and Sunday morning yoga. A full schedule of this weekend’s pride events can be found on Meet Market’s Instagram page @heymeetmarket.
Roach said this is the first pride event in Coupeville the couple has been aware of since moving into town, and they hope to get more Front Street businesses involved in years to come.