Sticks Market: The heart of Truckee’s Donner Lake |

Sticks Market: The heart of Truckee’s Donner Lake

Ashley A. Cooper
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
Sticks Market, at Donner Lake, provides all the goods for a day on the shore and a home-cooked dinner.
Courtesy Ashley A. Cooper | Lake Tahoe Action

If you go

What: Sticks Market

Where: 13710 Donner Pass Road, Truckee

Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Phone: 530-214-8891


Service: Super friendly and helpful

Atmosphere: Laid-back market with high-quality, local products

Price: $-$$$

As much as we are all a part of the larger community of Tahoe-Truckee, we also hold near to our hearts the individual identities of our smaller communities. From Tahoma to Tahoe Vista to Soda Springs, each community has a distinct culture. The businesses that thrive are often owned by the people who live there and who understand what their clientele need and want.

Those who live, play and work around Donner Lake are as varying as the lake’s many moods. For the reward of fantastic views, road bikers pedal strenuously up the summit, while rock climbers take to the canyons. At lake level, boarders and boaters skim calm morning waters, while joggers and picnickers take cover among the trees at dusk. The public piers host yogis, novice fisherman and bookworms wrapped in blankets midwinter, while South Shore homes at Donner don’t thaw until summer.

At the center of all of this is Sticks Market, located half way down the north side of Donner Lake. The owners, Todd Wright and Dave Martin, have been in the business of markets, super and small, for a long time. From his parents’ South Shore home, Todd eyeballed the building for years and dreamed of opening a high-quality market for the seasonal and local community. He finally got his chance in 2012, when he bought, gutted and completely renovated the market that once stood there.

On St. Patrick’s Day the following year, Dave became co-owner and introduced his famed corned beef and cabbage Reuben sandwiches, which he makes every year on the holiday. Todd moved back down the hill but happily drops into the store and works the register on occasion.

Dave tends the store every weekday and layers up some of the best Boar’s Head sandwiches around — always fresh and always on Truckee Sourdough Company breads. It’s not just ham and provolone either, there’s blackened and peppered turkey, chipotle gouda, havarti, breakfast sandwiches and much more. If there’s something you want that you can’t find, Dave will order it that day.

For this reason, Sticks carries everything from crawdad catchers to Niman Farms burgers, brats and bacon. While the original dream was to have an all-organic competitive market, Todd and Dave have adapted to the needs of their customers, including second homeowners, local lunch breakers and foreign students on a work visa.

They offer products such as Clover, Earthbound Organics and Three Twins Artisan Ice Cream and also provide brands like Model Dairy and Dreyer’s. A family could stock up on Bo’s Best Tahoe pancake mix, Tahoe Teas, fresh produce and fine wines for a week, and a bunch of kids could hit a dock with string cheese, tortilla chips and cheap sunglasses.

Sticks’ highest-grossing products are their specialty beers, of which there are six fully stocked fridges. No matter what a person’s preference, there is surely something for everyone, with Lost Coast Brewery, St. Archer and Lagunitas, as well as Unity Kombucha Beer and several types of hard ciders. Their impressive wine selection has organic, upscale bottles and one-serving reusable white or red wine glasses with foil tops for the beach.

Between the Little Free Library outside, the P.O. Boxes and the greatest effort to provide what their neighbors and visitors ask for, there is really nothing Sticks Market lacks. Friendly faces pick up their coffee and mail on the way to work, Gortexed bikers relax at the table out front and road workers and pier-goers order up huge midday sandwiches. Chances are, if you’ve been to Sticks, Dave remembers your name. If you live in the community, he probably knows your work, your family and your weak spot for the Treat Box pastries delivered fresh every morning. The rest of the small staff is just as genuine and kind as Todd and he are.

Just like the rest of us, our small local businesses rely on the seasons. To keep them around, do as they do: shop local and smile often.

Ashley A. Cooper is a freelance writer residing in Truckee. She can be reached at

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