.

Column: Integrating the Farmers Market with Local Business Community

The farmers market's high profile tends to block existing shops, say some. Albany Patch accepts guest columns on newsworthy topics.

[Editor's note: A draft of the letter below was signed, within the first week of the Albany , by 12 of the 13 businesses from the block where the market takes place weekly. It was submitted to the city in May. It has been edited slightly for clarity. See the original documents as PDFs to the right.]

Let's bring commerce together, so it can benefit the whole community.

is an outdoor business new to our space on Solano Avenue, between San Pablo Avenue and Adams Street, in Albany.   

We are happy to have them here. However, there is a visibility issue.  

Initially, the first week the market opened, it parked a box truck directly in front of a merchant window. The only view to be seen from inside was of this big truck with graffiti tagged on it.

From outside, this business was completely hidden. Integrating business where it impacts everyone positively is the goal. Let's improve the space with an adjustment that truly re-distributes visibility.  

The improvements proposed are completely reasonable, socially responsible, and aesthetically appealing, and consistent with other locations combining building merchants with roving markets.  

Local businesses on Solano Avenue, within Adams Street and San Pablo Avenue, have been here ranging from 12 to 36 years. We are primarily a service block. We rely on visibility through commuters and walk-up traffic.  

Awareness of this location for services was the incentive to bringing the into our area. A business assessment was made in allowing them the use of our street.  

We made concessions with parking. We don't mind walking a bit further. Our customers park further away as well. However, the market's use of parking convenience is what negatively impacts visibility. 

This matters, as this part of the avenue doesn't get a lot of attention. Commuters are detoured away, north on Adams Street, from 1:30-8 p.m., a big chunk of time. Re-distributing visibility is positive to livelihoods.

Currently, Farmers Market does not block visibility at El Cerrito Plaza; Shattuck Avenue & Rose Street; South Berkeley Derby Street at MLK; Berkeley Center Street at MLK; or Kensington Circle. 

They do not include their parked vehicles as part of their workspace. Consistency is desired and reasonable.

*  Street and sidewalk should be a clear and open thoroughfare between local merchants and Farmers Market. No vehicles; and access in the event of emergency.
*  Street should be open to the shoppers entirely. This encourages strolling, and discovery of local businesses who have been here for many years.
*  Let's extend the street's width. Without vehicles, approximately 14 feet opens up, creating an aesthetic appeal.
*  Farmers Market is not a street fair like . The Solano Stroll occurs one day out of every year, celebrating local business and the community, and without vehicles.

The city's approval of Farmers Market called for a review to be performed, within the opening months of the market.

We hereby request that the city perform a review of the impact on the adjacent businesses and emergency vehicle access vendor parking.

We live and work in a neighborhood that is noble and responsible when it is well informed of the details that impact everyone.

In business, the best choice you can make is where you set up "shop." The old saying in business is: Location, Location, Location. Re-distributing visibility will positively impact livelihoods.

May all who gather here together prosper.

[Editor's note: A draft of the letter below was signed, within the first week of the Albany , by 12 of the 13 businesses from the block where the market takes place weekly. It was submitted to the city in May. It has been edited slightly for clarity. See the original documents as PDFs to the right.]

Let's bring commerce together, so it can benefit the whole community.

 is an outdoor business new to our space on Solano Avenue, between San Pablo Avenue and Adams Street, in Albany.   

We are happy to have them here. However, there is a visibility issue.  

Initially, the first week the market opened, it parked a box truck directly in front of a merchant window. The only view to be seen from inside was of this big truck with graffiti tagged on it.

From outside, this business was completely hidden. Integrating business where it impacts everyone positively is the goal. Let's improve the space with an adjustment that truly re-distributes visibility.  

The improvements proposed are completely reasonable, socially responsible, and aesthetically appealing, and consistent with other locations combining building merchants with roving markets.  

Local businesses on Solano Avenue, within Adams Street and San Pablo Avenue, have been here ranging from 12 to 36 years. We are primarily a service block. We rely on visibility through commuters and walk-up traffic.  

Awareness of this location for services was the incentive to bringing the  into our area. A business assessment was made in allowing them the use of our street.  

We made concessions with parking. We don't mind walking a bit further. Our customers park further away as well. However, the market's use of parking convenience is what negatively impacts visibility. 

This matters, as this part of the avenue doesn't get a lot of attention. Commuters are detoured away, north on Adams Street, from 1:30-8 p.m., a big chunk of time. Re-distributing visibility is positive to livelihoods.

Currently, Farmers Market does not block visibility at El Cerrito Plaza; Shattuck Avenue & Rose Street; South Berkeley Derby Street at MLK; Berkeley Center Street at MLK; or Kensington Circle. 

They do not include their parked vehicles as part of their workspace. Consistency is desired and reasonable.

*  Street and sidewalk should be a clear and open thoroughfare between local merchants and Farmers Market. No vehicles; and access in the event of emergency.
*  Street should be open to the shoppers entirely. This encourages strolling, and discovery of local businesses who have been here for many years.
*  Let's extend the street's width. Without vehicles, approximately 14 feet opens up, creating an aesthetic appeal.
*  Farmers Market is not a street fair like . The Solano Stroll occurs one day out of every year, celebrating local business and the community, and without vehicles.

The city's approval of Farmers Market called for a review to be performed, within the opening months of the market.

We hereby request that the city perform a review of the impact on the adjacent businesses and emergency vehicle access vendor parking.

We live and work in a neighborhood that is noble and responsible when it is well informed of the details that impact everyone.

In business, the best choice you can make is where you set up "shop." The old saying in business is: Location, Location, Location. Re-distributing visibility will positively impact livelihoods.

May all who gather here together prosper.

Everybody makes mistakes ... ! If there's something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email her at emilier@patch.com. 

Skip Moore July 21, 2011 at 03:45 PM
As one of the businesses impacted by the Farmer's Market, I will say when I left my workplace last night I was greeted by a wall of box trucks. I could not see the produce or the patrons because of this wall of vehicles parked along the curbs, nor could those shopping for the produce see my business. This is the nature on our concern. If the stated intent was to bring visibility to the local merchants, then the Market has failed miserably in that regard. The business owners in this block have made substantial concessions to allow the Market to operate. I just don't understand how the Market can be so callous to our stated concerns. It's like we don't exist. My business has been at this address for over 35 years, employs 14 people, contributes substantial sales taxes to the City, and yet we are treated as an inconvenience. As I see it, these truck vendors are guests in our house and should be sensitive to our request to open the street up so that we can all benefit from this weekly event.
Ben Feldman July 21, 2011 at 06:14 PM
As the Program Manager for the Ecology Center Farmers' Markets, let me start by saying that it is our primary mission is to operate farmers' markets in order to connect urban consumers with rural farmers. This connection provides those consumers with farm fresh produce while at the same time providing the farmers with consistent income. We also want our markets to support local businesses and all the evidence we have as well as the research on the subject suggests that markets do just that. To address some of the points in this opinion piece: The situation with the box truck the first week was resolved. We addressed the concern of the business owner the second week of the market by removing that truck and parking it elsewhere and improving visibility. We have now had 11 weeks of the market since that issue was addressed. We have allowed ample space for emergency vehicle access through the lane within the market. The market setup has been approved by Albany Police and Fire and they have no concerns about accessing the area in the event of emergency. It is stated that "They do not include their parked vehicles as part of their workspace" at other farmers markets that the Ecology Center operates as well as the El Cerrito and Kensington markets.....(continued below)
Ben Feldman July 21, 2011 at 06:14 PM
This is incorrect. Vendors at all of those markets have vehicles parked immediately behind their stalls at all of those markets and nearly every farmers market in the area. For vendors, access to their vehicles is very important, in some cases it is even has health or safety considerations. I personally walked the block of the market on multiple occasions and spoke with vendors personally and the perspective that I have heard on those occasions was different than the perspective of this piece. Skip-I'm sorry that I haven't spoken with you or addressed your concerns. I'll be contacting you shortly to see what we can do to improve visibility for you.
terri varela July 22, 2011 at 08:58 AM
As a business owner in Albany on Solano Avenue for 13 years, the issue regarding visibility is still apparent. Photo's in this piece clearly show this. To address some of the feedback of the points in this opinion piece: "New" business has not been generated in the last 11 weeks, and although we are told "evidence suggests" that this will happen, it hasn't. Virtually no walk-up traffic on the sidewalks to local businesses has surfaced. The situation was not resolved by removing the box truck, and putting a plant vendor in its place. The thought in doing this was recognized, however it did not resolve the issue, as stated. It is stated that, "They do include parked vehicles as part of their workspace" at other farmers markets. However, El Cerrito Plaza is away from building merchants and so their vehicles do not block visibility there. Rose street market is set in a part of the street where they are not set up directly in front of local business. They do not block visibility there. This is the issue. With 2 Berkeley Bowl Market's, Whole Foods, and another Whole Foods proposed in this neighborhood, along with: Andronico's on Solano, Monterey Market on Hopkins, and a Farmers Market in: El Cerrito Plaza, Kensington, Rose Street Berkeley, and now Albany, does anyone here truly believe that they are deprived of quality produce? Is providing farmers with consistent income above that of the local business owner and their income? (continued below)
terri varela July 22, 2011 at 11:30 AM
Ben those vendors you spoke with who are giving you feedback on the perspective of local businesses should not be stated as concrete evidence. The building merchants signed the petition because it was, and is reasonable to expect visibility. The fact is no one wants to be viewed as a "cranky-upstart" when they are merely giving feedback, and looking for the best way to do business. A united front was brought into the City Hall with those signatures.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »