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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.

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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