Market spotlights downtown

August 06, 2008 12:00 am
Arianna Skikos (left) and her mother, Jane Skikos, shop for tie-dye clothing at the Business Improvement District's Wednesday Farmer's Market. Their friend Mikie Turner, right, looks on. (The Daily Triplicate/Rick Postal).
Arianna Skikos (left) and her mother, Jane Skikos, shop for tie-dye clothing at the Business Improvement District's Wednesday Farmer's Market. Their friend Mikie Turner, right, looks on. (The Daily Triplicate/Rick Postal).

By Kelley Atherton

For those who don't want to wait for Saturday's Farmer's Market at the fairgrounds, there's one every Wednesday evening in the plaza off 3rd Street.

The Business Improve-ment District's market on Wednesday evenings from 4 to 7 p.m. is one more step that community members are taking to get downtown hopping.

The idea is that a weekly market will make downtown a more happening place, which will then spur development.

Billie Kaye Gavin-Tygart, president of BID and owner of Six Degrees of Celebration on 3rd Street, said the organization wants to encourage more businesses to settle in downtown. That in turn will draw some more people downtown to shop.

"We continue to promote getting businesses interested in being downtown," Gavin-Tygart. "To make it a more marketable, more shop-able, walkable downtown."

This market has actually come full-circle from the first farmer's market in downtown 20 years before it moved to the fairgrounds, said Susan Stewart who manages the market. She added that BID thought the plaza would be a good locale to help improve downtown.

Getting on its feet

The Wednesday evening bazaar started July 9 and has grown from 11 vendors to 18, Stewart said. It'll be open until the end of October.

At this point, it's mainly crafts, such as tie-dyed clothing, flowers, metal work, jewelry, driftwood furniture and Stewart's goat milk soap.

For fresh food, there is also produce from Ocean Air Farms, Two Sisters Bakery and Stewart's Produce, run by Susan's husband. The Stewarts have been in the farmer's market circuit for 20 years, which is why BID wanted Susan to organize the weekday market—she knows the vendors.

And every week it's growing, Stewart said.

"More and more are signing up," she said. "Vendor space is free, which is very appealing."

The market also takes food stamps, which draws in those who would normally have to go to a grocery store.

"It opens up the market to more people in community," Stewart said. "I wanted everyone to be able to enjoy the market."

Stewart is trying out new ideas to keep the market going each week. As of today, the Wonder Bus will be stopping by the market for kids to check out while their parents shop. Kids can hop on the Wonder Bus for a variety of fun, educational activities.

A difference in markets

Another idea behind the Wednesday market is that many people run out of their fresh produce three to four days after the Saturday market, Stewart said. Therefore, Wednesday became the night of choice so people can restock. It's open late so people can stop by after work.

This doesn't represent competition for the fairgrounds farmer's market, Stewart said. One might be more attractive to those who like to get up early on Saturday and check out the selection, while the other might appeal more to those who want to stop by after work during the week and sleep in on Saturdays.

Maybe someday, the city will have two large farmer's markets, she said.

"I hope it grows as big as Saturday," Stewart said.

The number of people stopping by each week has stagnated recently, Stewart said. But those who do show up seem excited about the idea of a weekday market downtown, she added.

"People are striving to get back to their roots: whole foods and healthy living," Stewart said.

The downtown market should work because locals like going to the one in Arcata, she said. It provides some culture and atmosphere downtown—an identity for the city.

"The downtown is not as busy as it should be," Stewart said. "Now we have Tomasini's Enoteca and boutiques trying to build it up and make Crescent City a pleasure to come here and enjoy living here."