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Sale may avert closure of Made Local Marketplace in Santa Rosa

A west county real estate broker is finalizing the purchase of the nearly 10-year-old downtown Santa Rosa business.|

Made Local Marketplace, the downtown Santa Rosa consignment emporium of gifts and wares made by local artisans, appears likely to survive the economic havoc of the pandemic after all.

Founders Kelley Rajala and Pam Dale, who announced plans last week to close the store at month’s end, are now finalizing a deal to sell the business to a Sebastopol woman.

“It feels like it was meant to be,” said buyer Willow Peterson. “It was one of those kismet things. We just have to make it happen.”

Peterson is a Hawaii native who came to west Sonoma County five years ago. She owns Sebastopol-based Sage Real Estate Investments and refers to herself as “a farmer, a maker and a lover of all things Sonoma-made.”

She is finalizing a sales deal with Rajala and Dale and with the owner of the Fourth Street building, John Pasini. She hopes that on July 1 she will take over the nearly 10-year-old retail showcase and its North Bay Made six-county business branding and networking initiative.

Peterson was in the process of purchasing the business last spring when shelter-in-place orders forced Rajala and Dale to close the store. The severe business slowdown wrought by the pandemic hammered Peterson’s real estate brokerage and her husband’s event lighting business.

“We had to put it all on pause,” she said. She had no option but to back out of the purchase of the Made Local store and regional entrepreneurial incubator.

Just days ago, Peterson reconnected with Rajala and Dale. She made the call because the Marketplace had reopened, the pandemic’s constraints on commerce had eased and the consignment store’s owners had announced that it was so deeply set back by fallout of shelter-in-place that they had no choice but to shut it down.

Soon, the sale was back on.

“We’re down to the details,” Rajala said Thursday.

She and Dale said it’s clear to them Peterson shares their passion for helping creative locals to make or supplement a living by selling products they make themselves, and for offering the region’s consumers an alternative to mass-produced goods sold online.

“We feel so good about her,” Rajala said of Peterson. “She is the one.”

If the sale of the Made Local Marketplace goes through as planned, Rajala and Dean will stay on after July 1 to teach the new owner the ropes.

“I’m going to learn on the job,” Peterson said.

You can contact Chris Smith at 707-521-5211 or chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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