Recently, the Santa Clara County Fire Department announced that the Downtown Campbell Farmers Market will return to its previous layout on Dec. 2 because of safety concerns.
We received several messages from residents and business owners about the issue. The following is a letter from downtown Campbell businesswoman Deb Rohzen, owner of Simply Smashing! Boutique.
This decision is a huge disappointment, and for the change to go into effect on Dec. 1, three weeks before Christmas, adds insult to injury for the downtown retailers.
As a DTC merchant for nearly twelve years, I participate in all community events on our avenue, and am all for the happiness of our local residents/customers. In fact, while closing the street every Sunday hurts my business, in general, I have continued to welcome the farmers market, just as long as they would allow equal exposure to the merchants, as to the market vendors.
That said, I am fed up with the downtown merchants ending up at the bottom of the totem pole when these situations arise. I realize I am putting my neck out to say this, but, if I had to make an all-or-nothing choice, I would choose for the farmers market to move elsewhere, rather than block our businesses again. At the end of the day, Downtown Campbell merchants need to count, at the very least, equally as much as the residents, farmers market goers, etc. We certainly pay more for rent, by far, than the farmers market.
In the five years that I have had farmers market booths blocking the front of my store, I lost business on Sundays, hands down. In the few months that we have enjoyed the new layout, my Sunday business has been up +/- 30%, and my walk-in traffic has been up 50+%.
I believe this decision is a blow to most downtown retailers, and it is a crushing blow to my business. I have to believe that there are other options in terms of reconfiguring the market, that don't entail shutting business off to the open merchants.
Again. There are parking lots, side streets, loop streets - I am sure a compromise can be worked out. If the only choice to to have farmers market booths backed up to the curb, blocking my store again, I may well be forced to close my business on Sundays because, with the previous layout, I often paid more to run the store than was returned by customer sales during farmers market.
Yours truly unhappy, Deb