SPRINGFIELD -- The eclectic EuGenius Market is closing at Gateway Mall at the end of the day on March 29.
"We lost our lease due to the mall renovation scheduled this spring," market owner David Wells said. He said he has no plans to open the year-round market elsewhere, but is hoping to turn it into a seasonal venture.
The main barrier to moving the market to another location is the shortage of affordable retail space with parking, Wells said.
He opened the market 18 months ago, leasing a vacant, 14,000-square-foot space between Sears, Kohl's and Cinemark. He divided that into 55 spaces, which he rented to users for a flat fee, starting at $25 a day for a 10-foot-by-10-foot space.
The market offers a variety of products and services, including gifts, collectables, specialty foods, artwork, beads and electronics.
Wells said the upside of losing his space is knowing the market served as an incubator for some small businesses that started, or grew, under its umbrella and are now going out on their own.
"It's really neat how things have blossomed," he said, "Some (market tenants) have said it pushed their business plans five years ahead."
Twila Massey is one of the EuGenius fledglings.
Massey had noticed that while there are a lot of outlets selling gluten-free products, she had trouble finding everything she wanted in one place. She figured a business could be built on that need. When the EuGenius Market opened, her idea went from dream to reality: The Gluten Free Cart.
"It was the catalyst and the whole reason I decided to go ahead with it," she said. "It was an easy way to start, an easy way to see what it's going to cost to have inventory, an easy way to see the reaction from the public."
Now that the market is closing, she has moved into space shared with Alpine Catering and Pi Pizza at 225 W. Broadway in downtown Eugene, where she is open Wednesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. She offers gluten-free baked goods, pasta, baking mixes, soup mixes and other products. She said she is planning to get licensed to serve prepared foods in response to customer requests.
Success stories like hers hearten Wells, who said he is hoping to reopen the market as a seasonal holiday market at an undetermined location. EuGenius averaged 1,200 to 1,700 shoppers per day during the months leading up to Christmas, he said, and had 86 businesses on its waiting list the first Christmas and 92 on the second. "If I had had another 14,000 square feet, I could have filled it," he said.
EuGenius Market will be open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays through the end of the month.