Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia

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Tamarack Marketplace
Tamarack West Virginia.jpg
Tamarack at the Beckley Service Area in Beckley, West Virginia.
General information
Architectural stylePostmodernism
AddressOne Tamarack Park
Town or cityBeckley, West Virginia
CountryUnited States
GroundbreakingAugust 8, 1994
OwnerWest Virginia Parkways Authority
Design and construction
ArchitectClint Bryan & Associates
Main contractorRadford and Radford

Tamarack Marketplace is a tourist destination located at Exit 45 above the Beckley service area of the West Virginia Turnpike.[1] With over 500,000 visitors annually, this large arts and crafts facility is run as an economic development project of the West Virginia Parkways, Economic Development and Tourism Authority and sells West Virginia craft products, such as wood, glass, textiles, pottery, metal, jewelry, as well as specialty food items, fine art, and West Virginia books and recordings. There are five resident artisan studios and most weekends from Spring through Fall there are also craft demonstrations.[2]


Tamarack was conceived in 1989 under the administration of governor Gaston Caperton, with a $143 million bond issued by the Parkways, Economic Development and Tourism Authority. Planning for the facility and statewide scouting of artisans was conducted by Celia Burge, the state director of economic development and tourism. The Charleston-based architecture firm of Clint Bryan, Doug Bastian, and John Harris was awarded the contract for architectural design in May 1993.[3] Tamarack opened in 1996[4] and was the first statewide collection of "handmade crafts, arts and cuisine" in the United States.[5] In 2003, a conference center was added to the facility.

Since its construction, Tamarack has generated over $70 million in revenue.[6]


On January 8, 2007, a report from the West Virginia Performance Evaluation and Review Division (PERD) stated that Tamarack has been running a deficit for several years.[4] According to the report, Tamarack costs the West Virginia Parkways, Economic Development and Tourism Authority, which operates the West Virginia Turnpike and Tamarack, $2 million to $2.5 million annually.

Economic impact and contribution to the state[edit]

A frontal view of Tamarack.

Tamarack generates over $7.5 million per year from retail and food sales. It also provides about 150 jobs though direct employment at the facility. The $1.2 million payment for Tamarack's construction bonds were defeased (escrowed for payoff) in August 2009, significantly reducing the operating deficit.[7] In February 2009, the Tamarack Foundation released findings from a study conducted by Marshall University's Center for Business and Economic Research which showed that Tamarack contributed $18.6 million to the state’s economy during the 2008 fiscal year.[8] The study also points out that Tamarack supports 236 FTE jobs and is responsible for generating more than $750,000 per year in state and local taxes, not including over $400,000 per year in sales tax which is returned to the state.[9] The report can be read in its entirety here.

Many supporters criticized the PERD report as being biased, stating that Tamarack cannot be judged solely based on profit from Turnpike motorists.[4][10] The report ignored sales to wholesalers and to other businesses, and also ignored derived economic benefits. Visitors to Tamarack increase tourism in the region, especially to attractions like New River Gorge and Winterplace Ski Resort, and utilize hotels, restaurants and gasoline stations in the Beckley region.[10] The Tamarack Foundation, a private 501(c)(3) non-profit, operating as an adjunct to Tamarack, offers a wide range of programs for artists and craftspeople across the state. These programs include business training, mentoring, education, professional development and enhanced business and marketing opportunities.".[10]

Said Greg Barr, General Manager of the West Virginia Parkways Authority, which oversees Tamarack,

"Tamarack is not just a business. That’s where they’re missing the mark. It’s there to support and nurture the artisan industry... It’s a benefit that should not be solely determined by what the bottom line of that bricks and mortar facility is."[6]

Lawmakers do not intend to make any changes to Tamarack's operation,[4][10] as it is an "incomparable showcase of mountain crafts and arts, it serves an important function for West Virginia".[11]


  1. ^ The Best of West Virginia. Tamarack. 24 March 2004 [1].
  2. ^ "Homepage". Tamarack Marketplace. Tamarack Marketplace. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  3. ^ "History". Tamarack Marketplace. Tamarack Marketplace. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d Darst, Paul. "Tamarack Supporters Critical of State Report." State Journal [Charleston] 11 Jan. 2007. 12 Jan. 2008 [2].
  5. ^ Tamarack - The Best of West Virginia
  6. ^ a b Porterfield, Mannix. "Manager, artisans defend Tamarack." Register-Herald [Beckley] 8 Jan. 2007. 12 Jan. 2007 [3]
  7. ^ Suka, Alicia. "Money in the Bank to Pay Tamarack Bonds" State Journal, 18 Aug. 2009. [4]
  8. ^ Stanton, Audrey. "Tamarack’s economic impact huge, study shows" Register-Herald [Beckley] 24 Feb. 2009. [5]
  9. ^ Marshall University Center for Business and Economic Research. "The Economic Impact of Tamarack" 31 Dec. 2008, pp. 9-10. [6]
  10. ^ a b c d Byrd, Bill. "More than a storefront." Times West Virginian 11 Jan. 2007. 12 Jan. 2007 [7]
  11. ^ "Tamarack Center Important to W.Va.." News-Register [Wheeling] 9 Jan. 2007. 12 Jan. 2007 [8].

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°48′5.2″N 81°13′3.3″W / 37.801444°N 81.217583°W / 37.801444; -81.217583