Greenville’s inaugural Market at Lafayette Park a success


By Curtis Wildfong • Last Updated 9:51 am on Wednesday, July 09, 2014

 

GREENVILLE — With the first Market at Lafayette Park in the books and an optimistic view of its future, the Greenville Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has dedicated $1,000 in advertising funds to further promote the market and recruit additional venders.

“I don’t see why we shouldn’t fund something like this as a DDA and why we cannot. I think of it as the same context of the movies in the park project that we did for a few years at a cost annually of a couple thousand dollars,” said DDA President Roy LaMarte. “The whole purpose of that was to get people downtown, which is our function, at least partially. I think this fits in nicely in that role.”

The trial market, scheduled from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. the last Saturday of each month from June to October, was created to gauge the level of interest a market-type activity would garner at Lafayette Park.

While only four vendors set up shop on June 27 for the first of potentially five markets to be held this summer, low vendor turnout was expected by organizers as the market begins to build a name for itself.

Organizer and DDA member Deb Huch said there was “steady traffic” and vendors saw positive results.

DDA member Linda Huckleberry, who had a coworker set up a booth at the market, said she had only good reports from those involved and vendors were able to make a profit.

“She was very delighted with her revenues from that day,” said Huckleberry of her coworker.

On Tuesday, the DDA decided to continue pushing the market forward by dedicating money toward advertising, both to spread awareness of the market and to continue to add new vendors.

“Now my focus is trying to get more vendors in the next couple of weeks,” said Huch, adding she has had several interested. She noted a vendor from Grand Rapids had heard of the market and expressed interest in purchasing a booth.

DDA members have yet to set specific regulations and requirements for vendors, but they mostly feel that a market open to farmers, crafters, artists and everyone else would be the best option.

LaMarte said continuing down the path to improving the market week-by-week in the early stages is important and the DDA should continue to pursue growing the market.

“I can see us tripling the next time around if we did some right things and more things you’re doing right,” he said.

If the market proves successful, the DDA may consider a temporary structure to further test the site and also establish a group to operate it, with the ultimate goal being a more permanent, open-air structure.

Once the trial market is complete, there is still plenty of work to do before settling on a structure. A cost estimate must be conducted, as well as how the city will pay for it, whether it be through state grants, local grants and donations, or a combination.

Bosanic said last month a new opportunity for potential grant money became available from the state of Michigan.

“Apparently there was some leftover funds from other places that has been pooled and as a result has expanded the possibility for applications for projects,” he said. “This is good timing, because this is really kind of a coincidence.”

Applications for the grant are being accepted in the fall, according to Bosanic.

“We’ve got a few months to put something together and this could potentially, if it all came together, be a project for next year.”

Because the grant is competitive, meaning several municipalities will be seeking it, Bosanic said the more the city can do to strengthen its case for the grant the better the chances. The trial market is a good example of showing action, he said.

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