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Downtown Businesses Want Farmers' Market to Change Configuration

The Downtown Campbell Business Association asked Campbell City Council to 'tweak' the current farmers' market's configuration.

The downtown is one of the only year 'round markets in the South Bay. It attracts crowds that fill downtown Campbell's streets every Sunday, but it also does something that many may not be aware of.

According the Downtown Campbell Business Association at tonight's Campbell City Council meeting, the farmers' market also hurts downtown businesses.

"Having a farmers market has helped our downtown grow and we appreciate it, but the configuration of it has had a detrimental effect on our business," says Sally Howe, DCBA member and downtown business owner.

The current set up of the farmers' market allows visitors to go down the center of Campbell Avenue and places the backs of the vendors to the existing businesses, thus "blocking them" from the large crowds, DCBA members contested March 20.

At a DCBA meeting earlier this month, members threw out ideas for alternative setups similar to popular Campbell festivals like where the vendors set up down the middle of the street, allowing better visibility for the businesses.

"By all accounts the farmers' market is a success," Dana Smith says. "But blocking the businesses is nuts. I believe that the longer the city council allows this layout, the more businesses we will lose."

Smith's business, is at the end of this month and he contends the loss of business on Sundays played a role in his decision.

Deb Rohzen, owner of and a DCBA member told the council that she used to have a location up the street where the market did not block her boutique, but after relocating to her current location, she has seen a difference in traffic.

"It's a world of difference in the business on a Sunday, especially in this economy," Rohzen says. "We are asking to keep the farmers' market, we love the farmers' market but we need equal exposure. We are fighting for a better setup."

Sonya Paz, the DCBA's president brought up the possible expansion of the market, from where it currently ends as something she'd like to see change, along with the configuration.

"Our building is only four years old and the farmers' market was set in motion before we were there," Paz says. "So our building was not taken into consideration because we didn't exist. We are now at full capacity."

The building Paz' business, Sonya Paz Gallery, is located at recently filled spaces with the additions of BYR of Belgium and .

"It's great that we have the world's best farmers' market," says Laura Moore, business owner and DCBA member. "Just tweaking it enough to work for both the businesses and the farmers' market."

The city council was receptive to the idea of discussing the issue over a sub-committee or study session.

"We can't promise to fix anything but it is worth talking about," says Councilman Jason Baker. "It involves two very important things to Campbell: the downtown businesses and the farmers market."

Check back with us to read more on this story as it develops.

ES March 21, 2012 at 03:20 PM
It's a great idea to put the market in the middle, and have people walk around the oustide. I rarely go to the farmers' market after 10am because it get so busy and congested in its current configuration.
Mayra Flores de Marcotte March 21, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Thank you for your comment, ES. It's always important in a conversation involving possible change to hear from the people that use the service, i.e. the farmers' market, to find out whether or not a change like the one described would change their shopping behavior. Thanks again for continuing the conversation.
Bethany Curran March 21, 2012 at 11:58 PM
I have always wondered why they would set up the farmers' market vendors blocking the downtown businesses like that. The farmers' market attracts so many people to the downtown each Sunday, but our own local businesses often can't even be seen by all those people, thus causing them to miss out on the possible extra business. The change seems like a no-brainer to me. It doesn't hurt the FM vendors and benefits our local businesses. Plus, for those of us with kids (and strollers, or wagons, or carts, or dogs), it's easier to walk around all the stands & booths than to all be "funneled" through the middle like the current plan.I see the change as a win-win! :)
Mayra Flores de Marcotte March 22, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Thanks for the comment, Bethany! You know, I sat in on a Downtown Campbell Business Association meeting this month where the business owners discussed this and I think they brought up some interesting points. I forgot to mention in the article but they brought up that many local farmers' markets are actually held in parking lots, where businesses aren't affected and that, according to them there are only two local farmers markets that use this configuration: Campbell and Sunnyvale. I guess we will see as things progress. As always, thank you for keeping the conversation going and offering up your personal experience on this. Keep on reading!
stacy March 22, 2012 at 07:49 PM
What would be the argument AGAINST doing this? I can only see up-side.
Bethany Curran March 22, 2012 at 11:09 PM
I lived in Sunnyvale before moving to Campbell, and they have the same problems and complaints with their FM too. The businesses are blocked by the booths/ stands, and you get that same "funneling" effect when you force that many people into a narrow space. It just doesn't make any sense to me.
Mara March 23, 2012 at 02:57 AM
I agree with Stacy. There's no reason to NOT do this.
Leslie March 23, 2012 at 04:35 PM
There are ways to modify the layout slightly without completely altering the layout to shove all of the vendors n the middle. With breaks between the blocks in the booth lines it would allow for easier access to the sidewalks and stores behind the main flow of the market while still keeping the street area in the middle available for pedestrian flow in both directions. As a regular visitor to oth the farmers market and other festivals downtown, I dont like having a vendor layout in the middle of the street. You inevitably end up having people trying to walk both directions on either side of the booths and the pedestrian traffic jams are a nightmare, and I also usually end up skipping at least one section of vendors completely because jumping back and forth across the street to go up one section and down another gets hectic. I think that keeping the basic layout of having the vendors against the sidewalk but with breaks in the booth line mid block to encourage more in flow/out flow of traffic would do a better job of meeting both goals of keeping the market easy to navigate and accessible for those who coming to Campbell for the market, but then also help encourage more access and exposure for the permanent merchants.
sara davis March 24, 2012 at 12:27 AM
I agree with Leslie, changing the layout to that of boogie on the bayou would be a great shame? And how many potential customers will miss the permanent stores downtown entirely because there will be two rows of farmers market and a half a street between them and the stores? or they have their backs to the sidewalks because of the fact that they looking at the market in the middle of the street? I shop at the Campbell farmers market every week and love the experience, I feel the only way to make this work for everyone would be to expand the market another block and leave gaps for our local businesses this in my mind would be the best and most rational way to keep what we have and allow for the best chance for everyone to coexist
Alan Zisser April 09, 2012 at 08:10 PM
I don't know what might be best. I think some research should be done before you change a good thing. Visiting other farmer's markets that have same or different configurations. Get more than just a couple of anecdotal comments to prove loss of business. Seems to me that you are bringing a lot more people to downtown than normal on a Sunday morning, and that should have an overall positive effect for business in general. Maybe people come back because they have been there on Sunday. I would hope so. I like the idea of spreading it out with more openings at the curb. Why not use the entire length of downtown Campbell Avenue, including the most western block where Aquis and Sonoma are. And all the way down to near the tracks on the east? Also , use some of the cross streets for vendors, which doesn't block business. Like on 2nd, 1st and Central, to spread out the booths. Either way, still try to spread out the booths to make more room for people to walk around. It is pretty congested now.
Milton Dorkenhoff April 23, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I'd also like to see research done into how this would impact the market. One problem I imagine we would quickly run into would be how to handle cars that are left parked overnight. It's illegal, but it happens fairly regularly. If a car is left parked overnight, it would likely block off access to the front of one or more stands.
Bethany Curran April 23, 2012 at 08:09 PM
I would imagine they would handle the leftover cars the same way they always do - just tow them away ;) There were a few cars here and there before the Bunnies & Bonnets parade started and they had a couple tow trucks take care of it. I've also seen them do this before other events.
Milton Dorkenhoff April 23, 2012 at 08:54 PM
It's a nice thought - that they would be towed, but I can't imagine there is enough time between when it's illegal to park (7am), and when the market opens to actually get tow trucks in and get the cars towed without impacting the setting up of the market. For events, it's much easier to do the towing as Campbell Ave is closed the night before and stays closed for the weekend. Hey - there's a thought, close downtown Campbell Ave to pedestrian traffic for the whole weekend. Win-win.
Milton Dorkenhoff August 02, 2012 at 01:56 PM
The market has changed. The first thing I noticed was the lack of cars parked on Campbell Ave during the market (I've since learned that the "no parking" signs have been changed to "tow zone" signs and the cars were towed). The second thing I noticed was the offensively loud band playing in front of Sonoma Chicken Coop, which apparently is not part of the market itself, but something the Coop did on their own. Given that this change was made to improve traffic for the various businesses, do we have any concrete numbers on how much traffic the businesses had before, so that we can determine whether this is successful for them or not? I suspect the answer is no, Campbell seems more of a "shoot from the hip" or "trust your gut" place rather than a "think about the impact of what you are about to do" place.

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