Merchants Ask Farmington DDA to Consider Farmers Market Changes
Retailers say their customers can't find parking and suggest moving the market to another day of the week.
Brandi Ellis loves the Farmington Farmers and Artisans Market, but she doesn't love what it's doing to her business.
Bellis is located directly across from the Walter E. Sundquist Farmington Pavilion and Riley Park, which draws 3,000-4,000 people on Saturdays from May through early November. Unfortunately, Ellis said, those additional people don't translate into additional business for her.
By the time Ellis arrives to open her business on market Saturdays, she can't find a parking space. And her customers, who come in looking foward to a relaxing massage, can't either.
"They have to walk extremely far to get services," said Ellis. "When they come in, they're already complaining."
She added the construction anticipated this spring and summer will only add to the problem.
Ellis cited a number of communities that hold farmers markets on Sundays or other days of the week. She said Saturday is the busiest day of the week for small business owners, and having market-goers take up customer parking spaces cuts into their revenues.
Karen Gara, owner of Merle Norman, said her Saturday business is down by thousands of dollars over the course of a year.
"I love the market, I think we're doing a great job, but it's not working for merchants," she said.
Board member Tom Buck said the point of having the market was not just to have a farmer's market. "We're trying to bring people downtown to benefit our merchants," he said. "It should be helping you, not hurting you."
Board chair Bob Rock pointed out that Starbucks, Tubby's Grilled Submarines and other businesses that serve food report doing well on market days. He said officials will consider the merchants' concerns as they are planning this year's market, which opens in May. The retailers who attended said they would be willing to participate in those discussions.