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After nearly a year of low turnout, downtown Glendale farmers market shuts down

Downtown Glendale farmers market shuts down

In this July 2015 photo, Mercedes Runstk and her husband Jorge Runstk, visiting from Montclair, got organic grapes at the farmers market in downtown Glendale. About a year after reopening on Brand Boulevard, the farmers market has closed due to poor turnout, and its future is unclear for now.

 

(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

About a year after reopening on Brand Boulevard, the farmers market in downtown Glendale has closed due to poor turnout, and its future is unclear for now.

Every Thursday afternoon since last May, about two dozen vendors selling produce and homemade goods set up booths along Brand between California and Wilson avenues.

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One of the goals was to capitalize on foot traffic from people leaving work in the area, but not enough of them showed up.

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“We’re taking a break from the market for now because there has not been the community support that both we and the vendors were hoping for,” said Rick Lemmo, president of the Downtown Glendale Assn.'s board of directors, which organized the weekly market. “We never saw the market as a big money-maker. We hoped it would bring more people into the downtown area who would then shop and dine at other downtown locations after visiting the farmers market. It just has not worked as well as we hoped it would.”

The last farmers market was held on Feb. 25. The association will evaluate its options for the weekly event in the future, Lemmo said.

It’s the second time the market has been halted by the association, which took it over in 2013 after being handed the reins from the previous manager — the city of Glendale. Back then, the market was also on Brand but a bit south, between Wilson and Broadway.

The association moved the market to the parking lot of a church on Maryland Avenue, where a lack of customers forced its closure until the city gave approval to set up shop along Brand again.

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Alan Janoyan, owner of JRC Coffee, one of the vendors who sold his products at the most recent location, said he thought the surge of mixed-use developments and new residents would have meant more customers.

But downtown isn’t quite there yet, he said.

“We haven’t seen that foot traffic yet,” Janoyan said. “Maybe in like a few years, we will get there. But they’re still building so much and there’s so much construction in Glendale. It’s kind of more [vehicular] traffic than it is foot traffic.”

Advertising that a portion of the farmers market would be in Chess Park — an alley fitted with concrete benches and a small performance stage — didn’t help either because most people don’t know where it is, he added.

Janoyan said he stopped going to the farmers market in December because of the poor turnout.

By the end, there were only about 15 vendors still setting up, said Tim Gallagher, a spokesman for the association.

City spokesman Tom Lorenz said the decline of the farmers market isn’t an indicator of how all of downtown is performing.

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City Council members have stressed a mission to make Glendale an 18-hour city, where people can work and spend leisure time. People have made it clear they’re not interested in a downtown farmers market, Lorenz said.

“We’re not disappointed,” he said. “People are going to support what they want to support through their pocketbooks. There’s certainly no shortage of people in the downtown area.”

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Arin Mikailian, arin.mikailian@latimes.com

Twitter: @ArinMikailian

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