Thursday, March 26, 2009
Ashuffle of a few blocks could make all the difference.
That’s the message from Pacific Grove’s Downtown Business Improvement District, which claims the P.G. Farmers Market is hurting a majority of retailers neighboring the weekly event.
At the district’s request, the P.G. Planning Commission formed a subcommittee to re-examine the nine-month-old market’s location. The market closes Lighthouse Avenue from Forest Avenue to 18th Street every Monday from 2pm to 8pm.
“I don’t know if it’s possible to make everyone happy, but I’d like to compromise,” says Iris Peppard, organizer of Everyone’s Harvest market. “The Pacific Grove community really loves the market.”
“WITH THE FARMERS MARKET, THERE ARE DEFINITELY MORE CARS AROUND.”
Business district Chairman Bill Valuch, who owns Miss Trawick’s Garden Shop on Lighthouse and 19th Street, says a recent survey indicates the market has a negative impact on 11 of 17 nearby businesses.
“The district is totally in favor of a farmers market, but we have asked to relocate the market to a more neutral zone where it does not close down our main artery,” he says. “We’re trying to make this work for everybody.”
At Ron’s Liquors, business is down about 30 percent when the market is on, according to clerk Steve Collier. “When people get off work and want to get beer or wine or cigarettes, if they can’t get parking right out front like they used to, they won’t come until like 8 o’clock,” he says.
He suggests moving the market about one block down, away from Ron’s storefront.
But Lisa Weiman, co-owner of Pepper’s Mexicali Market, says the market boosted her business in the summertime and has had a neutral effect in the winter. She doesn’t see the need for the market to move.
“Pacific Grove on a Monday afternoon before the Farmers Market was empty: parking everywhere, no people on the street, totally dead,” she says. “With the Farmers Market, there are definitely more cars around.”
The subcommittee will meet over the next few months to explore alternative market locations, including the parking lot behind the Holman building (on Lighthouse and Grand Avenue) and the lot below Pepper’s (on Forest Avenue at Lighthouse), Valuch says.
Meanwhile, in an effort to draw more traffic in the typically sluggish chilly season, Peppard wants to invite vendors from all of Monterey County to participate in the “non-certified” (prepared foods and crafts) section of the market.
Current rules allow only P.G.-based vendors, but, Peppard says, turnout has been sparse: Only two businesses took up an offer of free booth space in February and March.