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Holiday Market reopens after 10-year hiatus

September 1, 2018
Holiday Market reopens
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Holiday Market employee Connie Johnson hands food to a customer Tuesday. Behind her is coworker Paul Holmes.

BURLINGTON — Longtime customers of the old Holiday Market remember it as a place where you could get everything.

”Growing up as a kid, we always went to the Holiday Market and got everything we needed for a day of recreation,” said fifth-generation Skagit County resident Duke Fisher.

From fishing and hunting gear to snacks, fast food and fuel — the market had it all.

When Fisher got his driver’s license, he said he started making his own trips to the market.

”The Holiday Market was the only place open at 5 a.m., so I remember going and getting things I needed for fishing or hunting trips if I forgot them,” he said.

In 2008, the Holiday Market was demolished to make way for an Interstate 5 expansion.

Over the past two years, Fisher has helped reinvent the well-loved market as the manager of its reconstruction for Chad Fisher Construction.

In July, after a 10-year hiatus, the new Holiday Market convenience store and gas station opened. Its grand opening is today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Fisher isn’t the only one interested in seeing the market come back.

On the new market’s Facebook page, Kyle Lindsay asked: “Are you guys gonna do it like it was when I was a kid? Able to run in and get gas and food and a box of shotgun shells for us procrastinators?”

The answer is yes, said owner Diane Steen.

Food, gas and bait can be found at the market, while a more expanded selection of gear can be found next door at Skagit Arms and Holiday Sports, which the Steen family opened in 2009.

When the Steens built the original Holiday Market in the 1980s, unemployment and demand for fishing gear were high.

So the Steens built their business around the demands of the time — cooking breakfast to feed hungry fishermen on their way out before sunrise, stocking their tackle and filling their tanks with fuel.

“Holiday Market evolved around the needs of the community,” Steen said.

Back then, the market was a convenience store with a Chevron gas station. Steen said the market kept a “want” list of customer suggestions, and the store addressed all it could.

”We listened to our customers,” Steen said. “They could come in with their boats and trailers, with their mud boots from hunting, they felt comfortable here.”

Items from the “want” list set the market apart from other stores, Steen said. It became known as the go-to place for jojo potato wedges, and chicken and gizzards.

The market became a destination, Steen said.

”For a lot of people, they remember going to the market with their dad,” she said. “Whether it was fishing or duck hunting, they’d come in at all times and they might be exhausted but their dad would get them a milk, a candy bar or something, and they just remember that because they were with their dad, it was a family activity and this is where they came.”

Steen said being forced to close the original market gave her family the opportunity to reinvent the market around customer needs.

”The Steens have put a lot of time and effort in re-creating what used to be, but now in a bigger scale,” Fisher said. “But the convenience store has always been that missing piece.”

Steen’s daughter Carrie Holmes said first thing in the morning, the new market is a sea of orange shirts and hard hats. It has traded its early morning crowd of fishermen for construction workers.

Cooks arrive at 3:30 a.m. and have some breakfast items ready by 4 for the early risers. In the hot case, customers will find a selection of homemade creations — including breakfast pizzas, burritos and bowls.

The breakfast pizzas were created to make eating on the go easier for morning commuters, Steen said.

Throughout the reinvention of the old Holiday Market, the business has remained a family affair.

Diane Steen’s son Gary Steen oversees Skagit Arms and Holiday Sports, while Holmes runs the market and her daughter Rachel Holmes manages the coffee drive-through right outside.

With the new market, Carrie Holmes said she intends to continue the tradition that first made the original one successful — listening to customers.

“We’re going to try and add what people want, just like we did before,” she said. “My vision is to continue that and make it better.”

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