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Lisa Duplessie

'I think we’re all here to help small businesses and the downtown community. I think another market can only help with that'


Busy moms usually juggle kids, a job and the weekly marketing. Lisa Duplessie does all of the above, with one big exception: She makes the weekly market happen. Hours before she sat down with Boise Weekly to talk about her new job as executive director of the Capital City Public Market, Duplessie had already made a batch of cupcakes, baked some K-shaped donuts for daughter Kate's sixth birthday, dropped Kate and big sister Maddie off at their respective schools and dashed to her downtown Boise office, where she was dealing with a seemingly endless list of challenges leading up to CCPM's Saturday, April 20, opening. But she was undaunted.

"I'm so excited," said Duplessie. "There's nothing better than opening day."

But this is far from Duplessie's first opening day. In fact, 8-and-a-half-year-old Maddie was only 2 months old when Duplessie joined the market to "help out." In the midst of her last-minute planning, Duplessie spoke with BW about her new position as CCPM's chief executive in the shadow of her former boss's firing.

Do you have some perspective on 2013's CCPM versus nine years ago, when you came on board?

I'll bet we're twice the size. I started working about 10 hours a week nine years ago.

And now, you're working six days a week. What time are you awake on Saturdays?

5:15 a.m. We're on the street by 6 a.m. We're closing the streets at 8:15 a.m., and that gives vendors about an hour to set up.

Did you ever see yourself as executive director?

Maybe years and years down the road.

Let's talk about the 2012 firing of Karen Ellis [BW, Citizen, "Karen Ellis," April 10, 2013]. How painful was last year?

It was hard.

Was it hard personally?

Absolutely. It affected board members, staff, vendors, everyone. We're family.

The public first heard about discord at the market last September when Karen Ellis was fired, but things like that just don't happen suddenly.

I think the progression of watching everything unfold was the worst. It was something I never want to live through again.

Was there ever a threat or chance that matters could have ended up in court?

I would have hoped not.

Have you had any conversation with Karen Ellis since she left?

I have not.

Karen Ellis is now managing the Boise Farmers Market (which opened April 6 at 11th and Front streets). Do you wish that effort well?

I think we're all here to help small businesses and the downtown community. I think another market can only help with that.

Why would a vendor leave Capital City Public Market after a decade or more to go join the new Boise Farmer's Market?

Everyone makes his or her own decision.

It's our understanding that some vendors will have a presence at both markets.

If they can finagle it, I think it's great.

I must ask you about something disturbing we heard recently: that there were vendors at CCPM selling products that weren't theirs and they weren't telling consumers.

I have heard that rumor as well.

But is that accurate?

At this point, I don't know if that's accurate. We're working through deficiencies in previous processes.

But doesn't a vendor have to disclose the source of their products?

Totally. I can say that, as a market, we now have processes in place.

We were stunned to hear that this may have been going on.

It is absolutely not OK. We're identifying deficiencies in the processes that were there before, and we're putting processes in place to prevent that from happening.

Are these new processes for CCPM?

The implementation of the process is new.

Are you saying that you're now conducting site visits to confirm local sourcing?

Absolutely. None of our people are interested in knowing trade secrets from a vendor, but it's a fine line.

What is CCPM's vendor formula of farmers versus artisans?

We would love to have as much produce as possible. We're about one-third agriculture, one-third art and one-third food.

I had always assumed that CCPM was a nonprofit, but that wasn't the case, was it?

This is our first year as a 501(c)(6). It has been like that since last July.

If it wasn't a nonprofit, what was CCPM before?

I think that was some of the confusion in the past. To be perfectly honest, we were filed as a nonprofit with the state of Idaho and we filed our taxes as a C corporation.

Do you now have appropriate nonprofit bylaws?

Oh, yes. They're our bible.

What's the latest on the effort to establish a year-round market?

We've done a lot of work on that. Unfortunately, it's hard to grow things in Idaho in December, January and February. I really think the first step is to lengthen growing seasons. That, in turn, would help a year-round market scenario.

But that's considerable science. Is it fair to assume that a year-round market wouldn't happen anytime soon?

It would take some time, but there are some farmers in the valley working on extending those growing seasons, and that's a lot of commitment.

What's your biggest wish for the market?

To have great weather on opening day, Saturday, April 20.

But you have no say in the weather. Do you stress out over forecasts?


What kind of bad weather could cancel a market?

Lightning or high wind. Forty mph and you're done. Believe me, we watch the radar.

Radar is great, but you must know that long-range forecasts are fairly useless.

I know, but I still watch them.