From May to November, tents line the streets of downtown Evanston almost every weekend, selling local produce such as pastas, tomatoes, flowers and cider. But downtown Evanston Farmers’ Market may move soon, causing concern among some vendors and customers.
The 46 year old market currently located at the intersection of University Place and Oak Avenue. In February, the city’s economic development committee began discussing moving the market to Fountain Square, which market manager Myra Gorman said could pose challenges for sellers.
“Some of these farmers are older farmers – they don’t want to start over,” said Gorman. “If this step is successful, many of our senior farmers will not return, which would be a shame.”
There is currently no clear timeframe or guarantee for a move, said Annie Coakley, executive director of Downtown Evanston.
However, moving can be beneficial in some ways. Coakley added that it could, among other things, get close to other Evanston companies.
“Some people, including myself, believe that downtown businesses would benefit greatly if they moved to the heart of downtown,” said Coakley.
But Fountain Square has less parking space and a smaller space for vendors than the market’s current location, Gorman said. If the new location is inconvenient, providers could risk losing a large customer base.
With the market currently next to a parking garage, customers from all over the Chicago area are ready to drive in knowing they have easy access to parking, Gorman said.
“Some of these people have told us that if the market moves and I have to cross a block to get to a garage, they will stay in Chicago,” Gorman said.
While most Chicago farmers markets remained closed during the pandemic, Gorman said Evanston Market reopened last spring due to its suburban location. The market attracted both city customers and Evanston residents, she added.
Ben Shargorodsky works at the booth for Dulce Caramel Co., his wife Graciela’s business. He said the market reopening last spring helped boost Dulce’s sales.
“As long as people come into the market, we work,” said Shargorodsky. “The market has been up most of the time, so it’s a solid type of business.”
The city council has not taken any formal action to move the market location, but the Economic Development Committee is generally positive about the idea of moving, Ald said. Eleanor Revelle (7th).
Revelle said she awaited further debate on the matter.
“There are many residents who love, love, love the current location. So when it comes to the advice there will be a lot of public comment on it, ”said Revelle.
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