TRAVERSE CITY — The Downtown Development Authority wants to update its vision for the future of the Sara Hardy Farmers Market.
DDA Executive Director Rob Bacigalupi said crowding has long been an issue for the market. The setup of the market’s home, the Lot B parking lot across from Clinch Park, prevents vendors from spreading out to accommodate growing crowds.
“There are fixed edges you have to work around, like parking meters and the curb,” Bacigalupi said. “There are posts in the way, so we’ve widened it a little bit, as much as we can, but this would better define a wider pathway for customers.”
A 2002 farmers market study called for updating the parking lot to make more space for the farmers market, as well as adding electrical outlets and hooks for tying down tents to make the space better for festivals.
The DDA board hired Avenue ISR, a consumer research company, to survey vendors, neighbors and customers to make sure that’s still what they’d like to see at the market.
Lori LaClair, owner of Natural Northern Foods, has been at the Sara Hardy Farmers Market since 2006. Her business selling local salsa, hummus and spreads has grown, and so has the farmers market.
“I don’t feel (crowding) as a vendor because I have my little spot, but I feel it for the customers,” she said. “I think over the years I’ve noticed people start coming earlier, probably to beat the crowd.”
LaClair sets up under the canopy near Union Street, and said her end of the lot has a little more room than the area near Cass Street.
Bacigalupi said moving parking meters, posts and curbs could help open up space to accommodate crowded farmers market customers. The changes could result in lost parking spaces.