Thursday, March 29, 2012
“Market” isn’t the most precise word for what’s coming to The Independent, a mixed-use building in Sand City, the first Thursday of every month. But since “experimental convergence of local food, drink, art, music and miscellany” is a mouthful, market may have to do.
Developer Patrick Orosco, owner of The Independent, describes the event’s blueprint. Indoors: organic produce, flowers and nursery plants from local small farmers. Packaged foods like dried fruits and nuts, jams and honey. Meats and seafood from local ranchers and fishermen. Artisan crafts and a kids’ corner. A veggie valet allowing shoppers to drop off their bags while they grab a drink or dance. Outside: hot food stands, food trucks and bike parking. Entertainment: Four hours of music by a live DJ, local art and short films.
Because the market is happening on private property, 21-and-over shoppers can browse with beer from Post No Bills, the craft beer house in The Independent, and wine.
Each monthly market will feature a different nonprofit partner; Henry Miller Memorial Library is the first. The April event will include a pop-up bookstore selling titles and vinyl from the library’s Big Sur headquarters, and a slideshow on its history.
“A lot of people have heard of Henry Miller Library but never get down to Big Sur,” HMML Director Magnus Toren says. “Now we’re coming to you.”
Toren also hopes the library’s presence will bring in a little cash to offset the costs of a looming improvement project. The library is under pressure from the county Health Department to add an additional bathroom to accommodate the crowds that attend the concerts, festivals, film screenings and other events on the property. The financial burden lies solely with the library foundation, since former landowner Big Sur Land Trust handed over the title last month.
“It’s a lot of money. I’m a little bit freaked out,” Toren says. “[But] the library has a lot of support.”
From 8-10pm, Toren will screen shorts from the Big Sur International Film Festival in The Independent Gallery. The event (and the popcorn) are free, but Toren is requesting donations to help pay for the septic upgrade.
In line with that theme, Orosco plans to feature Big Sur artists and DJing by Big Sur Spirit Garden’s Jayson Fann. “It’s becoming an in-town celebration of some of the hidden secrets of Big Sur,” he says.
Future markets will bring other monthly themes reflected in live music and art curated by creative partners. “The idea is that the art is a moving showcase with a distinct flavor each time,” Orosco says. “We’re describing The Independent Marketplace as an experiment in food, drink, art and culture.”
At a special Sand City City Council meeting March 23, with two members recusing themselves because they live within 500 feet of The Independent, the council voted 3-0 to approve the market’s conditional use permit.
But the permit only covers a one-time event. It requires compliance with the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, a police-approved security plan and an after-market meeting with the police department. “If there are no problems, we would probably go through the same process for the long-term permit,” Associate Planner Chuck Pooler says.
Orosco admits the market may not shake out exactly as envisioned: “Being the first event, we’re not expecting it to be as polished. We throw this out there, and whatever seems to fit and arouses the most excitement is the way we go.”
Orosco’s hype hasn’t always played out. A planned farmers market at his City Center development in Seaside a few years back never materialized. “Before I knew anything about farmers markets, I was under the misimpression that it could be a profit source,” he says.
Like City Center, The Independent has been slow to fill up. But Orosco says this market has a more winning plan, including a lower fee structure for vendors. Another goal: attracting tenants to help foster Sand City’s creative culture.
“We haven’t been marketing the space actively at all,” he says. “I want people to understand why they would come to Sand City and what the vision is before I convince them to pay rent.”
Marketplace Coordinator Todd Champagne, who co-founded Pacific Grove-based Happy Girl Kitchen, says he’s drawing on years of experience at farmers’ markets. “The style we’re trying to bring is a mini-monthly food festival,” he says. “Think the foundation of a farmers market with the social addition of good, hot food; beer and wine bars; live music and a kids’ zone with ample rest areas, so people aren’t breezing through like they’re doing their chores. We want people to feel this is a party.”
The Independent Marketplace kicks off Thursday, April 5, and returns every first Thursday of the month. 4-9pm. Free. The Independent, 600 Ortiz Ave., Sand City.