A market in search of customers

Two markets to revitalize one Newport Beach neighborhood?

That's the idea, as a pair of local outdoor markets join forces to help invigorate Lido Marina Village.

"Basically, we're bringing two different visions together," said Kathy Shaw, founder of what is now the Lido Village Artisan Market, which will set up shop alongside the Newport Beach Farmers' Market in Lido Village, starting on a trial basis on Sunday. "We're going to see how it all works."

The artisan market will be a reincarnation of the Pelican Courtyard Open Air Market, a small, upscale flea market that ran monthly on Tustin Avenue until it outgrew the space in June, Shaw said, when neighbors complained about parking problems.

On Sunday, Shaw plans to bring a corps of about 15 vendors from the defunct Pelican Courtyard market to Lido, where organizers hope the added draw of unique local crafts will give the struggling Newport Beach Farmers' Market an artisanal shot in the arm.

"We're hoping for that higher end to really get the audience in that area interested, with the main goal being if we can offer something really kind of special, things people don't normally find at the store," said farmers' market manager Elle Mari.

The farmers' market — a hyperlocal amenity seeking a niche in a sprawling city where residents shop at equally sprawling, pristine shopping centers — could use it.

"We had a great opening in 2010, and since then it's been sort of a slow downtrend," Mari said. "The main reason I would hypothesize is why we're struggling in that location is it's just kind of depressed. It's a beautiful location ... but there's no businesses there."

The Newport Beach Farmers' Market is one of five run by the nonprofit Sprouts of Promise Foundation, Mari said.

The group also operates a market in the SoCo shopping center in Costa Mesa, which is open on Saturdays.

Mari said that of the markets Sprouts of Promise operates, the one in Newport has been the toughest to sustain.

Despite initiatives like cooking demonstrations aimed at attracting customers from beyond the immediate neighborhood, Mari said it's been difficult to make Newport a worthwhile stop for vendors.

And, of course, without vendors, it's harder to attract customers.

"It becomes this kind of 'Catch-22' situation," she said. "That's where we get to Kathy Shaw."

Shaw, for her part, said she is excited to give her vendors an opportunity to sell weekly. She added that she started a new Facebook page for the artisan market, spotlighting the local craftswomen behind many of the wares.

"By doing that, I've been able to get some really good vendors," she said. "I'm really anticipating a pretty good turnout for our first market."

Altogether, about 30 vendors are expected to sell goods ranging from handmade jewelry to gourmet baked goods to organic produce Sunday.

Newport Councilman Mike Henn, who represents the area, said he hadn't heard about the market merger, but he's interested to see how it pans out.

"I'm supportive of any effort to add vitality to the Lido Marina Village," he said. "It certainly needs it."

The farmers' market runs every Sunday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. For more information, go to the market's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LidoVillageArtisanMarket or the Farmers' market website at http://www.newportbeachfm.com.


Twitter: @jillcowan

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