In hopes of repeating the success of the College Park Farmers Market, city officials have hired a marketing company to manage a downtown site and turn it into “a vibrant marketplace.”
The College Park City Council voted unanimously Feb. 26 to award a $28,600 contract to Falls Church, Va.-based KSM Marketing Inc. to manage the Downtown College Park Farmers Market, which is open Sunday afternoons from April to November in the parking lot of the municipal building on Knox Road.
The College Park Farmers Market — held Saturdays in the parking lot of the Wells-Linson Ice Rink and Outdoor Pool Complex on Paint Branch Parkway from May through November — has been in existence for more than 30 years, but Mayor Andrew Fellows said officials felt a second market was needed.
“The Saturday farmers market has been a great success, but we thought we could do more by having a Sunday market downtown,” Fellows said, explaining that the second location could help highlight the city’s downtown business area.
The downtown market was formed in 2011 but started off small, and last year it was decided to form the Downtown Farmers Market Committee, composed of community members, to look into ways to expand and promote the farmers market.
City Councilman Fazlul Kabir (Dist. 1) said vendor and attendance statistics were not tracked in prior years, but added the city plans to do so this year.
Kelly Morris, KSM Marketing president, said in an email that she looks forward to working with the city and committee to establish goals and guidelines for the market.
“Our intent is to build a vibrant marketplace that creates an atmosphere that fosters community involvement and participation. We’ll start by developing a wide array of vendors and offering programming to include chef demonstrations, a visiting nutritionist and healthy lifestyle presentations,” Morris stated in an email.
KSM Marketing currently manages two farmers markets in Washington, D.C.: Capital Harvest on the Plaza and DC CHEW Farm Market, which College Park Councilwoman Stephanie Stullich said are both very successful.
Robert Boone, a member of the downtown market committee, said the market has avoided charging vendors as things are still getting off the ground, but should strongly consider charging vendors next year.
Boone said the committee found that a market manager would be necessary to manage a decent-sized market. Morris said she and an assistant will be in attendance at every market on Sundays.
“You don’t want all the same things, everybody selling peaches or cabbages. You want a variety of things. You want meat and baked goods, and that’s a sophisticated operation,” Boone said. “The market master vets, or checks out, each farmer, so you’ve got somebody there who’s watching the market, keeping it straight, keeping it clean, keeping it all controlled.”