CARLSBAD — Local business owners say they are wary about the new Village farmers’ market’s occupation of State Street each Wednesday night, but are hopeful that the expanded market will help bring in new customers.
“Our whole thing is, does it get a fresh new bunch of people in off the street to get people into the store?” asked Bill Davis, who owns and runs Coolest Shoes in California with his wife Christine.
Originally located in the public parking lot off of Roosevelt Street, the farmers’ market is now held directly on State Street between Carlsbad Village Drive and Grand Avenue. The farmers’ market closes the street to all traffic, eliminating parking for half of the day in front of businesses, including Davis’ shoe store.
The farmers’ market debuted its new location for the first time on Wednesday and hosted nearly 50 vendors who primarily sold produce and other food goods.
Davis said it was difficult to determine the market’s effect on his store on its first day. But he added that as long as the vendors didn’t bring any competing businesses, he would be fine with it being held in front of his store.
“If someone started selling shoes, I wouldn’t be happy about that,” he said.
“I think (the farmers’ market) creates energy in our business,” said Pam Smith, who has owned Classic Consign for the past 19 years on State Street.
“If someone is coming to the farmers’ market, then theymight discover some of the merchants here.”
Other business owners were a bit more concerned.
Nancy Valenzuela, manager of women’s clothing store CoCo Rose, which just opened on State Street a few days ago, voiced concern over parking.
She said that because “no parking” signs for the market had to be put up several days in advance, she was worried that customers would think that the street was closed off on multiple days.
The owner of The Australian Grill, on the other hand, had an entirely different take on the market’s location.
“Wednesday used to be the worst day of the week,” said owner Stefanie Isakidis. “Now (the farmers’ market) has given Wednesday a purpose. I would never have had this much business.”
She started to comment that the market provided exposure and advertising for her business, but she was interrupted by yet more customers who wanted to come in and dine.
“We want good for all of the businesses and good for downtown,” said Katie Gibson, project manager of Urban Place Consulting, the firm that has been hired to help the city revitalize the Village and campaigned for the new market location.
She said that she went around to every store to locate the owners’ of the three cars that were in violation of the no parking zone on opening day, and consequently no cars had to be towed.
She explained that the new farmers’ market location is more visible and has the option of growing further down State Street as early as next year if more vendors want to join.
On opening day, farmers’ market patrons could easily be observed wandering in and out of the shops along State Street in between sampling fresh fruits and veggies.
“We’re discovering all of these cute stores here,” said Sue Ardave, who came for the farmers’ market but ended up going into CoCo Rose and buying a bracelet.