Now that the farmers market in downtown Glendale has been in its new home for more than three months, less than half of the vendors who used to participate along Brand Boulevard are setting up booths at the new venue, according to the market’s new management.
The farmers market, which used to occupy a section of Brand’s sidewalk between Wilson Avenue and Broadway, now operates out of a larger space with more vendors in the parking lot of the First Baptist Church on Maryland Avenue.
All merchants from the previous farmers market location were invited to move, said Carole Gallegos, manager of the farmers market, which is open from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursdays.
However, only half of them agreed —and about a third of the vendors who made the move have dropped out, Gallegos said.
Newer merchants have joined since then, such as organic peanut butter retailer Healthy Butter and, for the first time, food vendors like Mama Ruth’s Mexican Cuisine.
This past Thursday, there were about 30 merchants carrying trendier offerings, such as artisanal knife sharpening, compared to 15 to 20 booths before the move — though vendor growth hasn’t helped much with visibility.
“I had someone come up to me today and say I’ve been looking for you for months, I didn’t know where you had gone,” Gallegos said. “You’d think we moved to China.”
Gallegos was hired by the Downtown Glendale Assn., which took over the reins of the farmers market from the city of Glendale at the end of last year.
Yolanda Carrera manages the booth for Bakersfield-based Gama Farms, which has been selling its produce at the Glendale Farmers Market for more than 15 years.
She said she’s lost about half of her business since relocating, but she’s glad to have an extra table for her goods, thanks to the expanded space.
Carrera said she’ll rely on sales of one of her featured products until more word of mouth gets out about the new farmers market location.
“I do have clientele who will come and buy my eggs,” she said.
Massis Boujikian is a newer merchant who came onboard in January with his Mark Boujikian Farms booth.
He had boxes and boxes stuffed with dried fruit for sale, but only two boxes for fresh fruit.
“The season is just starting up with fresh fruit so hopefully people will come down and it’ll pick up,” Boujikian said, adding that sales have been slow so far.
While the crowd numbers have dropped, the farmers market is making more money. Since January, it has grown from making about $4,000 a week to $5,000 a week, said Tim Gallagher, a spokesman for the Downtown Glendale Assn.
Merchants selling produce pay 7% of their income for the day to the association to cover their booths, while vendors selling other kinds of products pay 12%, she said.
To help get the word out about the new location, Gallegos said she’s getting ready to mail 15,000 to 20,000 postcards advertising the farmers market to nearby residents.
Glendale resident Abul Hasnat, who has been shopping at the farmers market since 2009, said while he likes having more room to roam around, he misses his regular merchants.
“This one is very big and well-organized. The thing is something is still missing,” he said. “Some of the vendors I don’t know. I used to know them by face.”
Follow Arin Mikailian on Twitter: @ArinMikailian.