Thank you to all residents of Parkdale and surrounding communities who have supported the Parkdale Farmers Market over the past 4 years. Unfortunately, the Parkdale Community Association had to make a difficult decision to close the market indefinitely.
When we first opened the market, the intent was to operate only during the winter months and support from the community was very encouraging. It was during the winter season and at the time there were no other indoor markets in the inner-city. Hillhurst/Sunnyside was operating a market Wednesdays during the summer, but would close down during the late fall and winter season.
Our initial goal for the market was to provide an option to residents who wanted to support local farmers, and other food related businesses. Included in our goal was creating a reason for residents to gather at the community association space, who may not have had a reason to do so in the past. Initially, over 500 people were attending the market on a regular basis.
The Parkdale Community Association, Staff, and our Vendors were pleased that our goals had succeeded.
However, the market was so successful that our vendors encouraged us to operate a market during the spring and summer month as well. We knew that Hillhurst was operating a summer market, but we felt that this quadrant of the city could handle two markets on the same day. During our first summer market we learned that our clients were shopping at both markets, and that some preferred the Hillhurst market. However, our vendors were still pleased with their sales, and wanted us to continue.
The market’s success continued for the first two years. During the third year of operation we noticed a decline in attendance, and some of our valued vendors left to find other markets to sell their products. Some of our vendors were still doing very well, while others were just getting by. We had vendor meetings, and tried several media marketing ideas. Unfortunately, marketing had little effect on attendance at the market. We were seeing a consistent decline in attendance, and we started to talk with our vendors about options for moving forward. Most decided they wanted to continue as we were. Although the Parkdale Community Association’s Market was operating at a small deficit, we decided that the social value of the market outweighed the small deficit.
Earlier this year, we started having conversations with Parkdale residents and market customers about the option of changing the day of the week of the market to Sundays. Almost everyone we spoke to felt it would be a better day for them. We then surveyed our vendors, and all but one vendor supported the idea of moving the day. Our new Sunday market opened quite successfully. We opened with a weekly brunch being offered, and it was great seeing how popular that was.
In late spring, our market was losing more vendors, and the great variety of food products we had in the past were no longer available at the market. We started to see a decline in attendance, and we were operating at a deficit that was not sustainable. The community association offered the vendors the option of running their own market, and when the market moved outdoors it was completely vendor operated.
The vendors soon discovered that there was a lot of work required to operate a market, and very few were willing to participate in sharing the tasks required to operate. The vendors then decided that they wanted to close the market, re-group, and try to come back in the fall with a new slate of vendors, and more food choices. If they are able to bring enough vendors, who have a good selection of products, at an affordable price, we have offered them either Wednesday evenings or Sunday during the day. They are currently reviewing their options. Stay tuned for updates in the fall.