Editorial: Farmer’s Market in Main Street essential for community


Iowa State Daily

The Ames Main Street Farmer’s Market will kick off its summer season on Saturday, May 7.

Isd Editorial

An Ames Main Street business owner brought a petition to City Council this winter requesting the Farmer’s Market be moved off of Main Street. Rick Swank, the owner of Swank’s Jewelry, told The Daily in a previous interview that the market caused traffic congestion so some customers could not park and he lost business on Saturday mornings.

Swank said his petition got 170 signatures, including those of 17 downtown business, before he submitted it to the council. Other business owners said at an open forum on March 1 that they will alter hours or create sidewalk displays to help attract more customers during the market. However, public support was mostly positive during that March 1 meeting and the City Council unanimously voted to keep the Farmer’s Market on Main Street in 2016.

The City Council made the right decision in keeping the Farmer’s Market in downtown Ames. The Farmer’s Market is a staple in many cities’ downtown districts and is quite popular among Ames residents. Main Street provides a scenic and historical backdrop for the Farmer’s Market in a central location while providing dozens of shopping opportunities for residents, both in stores and at the market.

First, numbers seem to support the current location. Lojean Petersen, the Farmer’s Market manager, told The Daily many business owners support the location of the market. She said there is an 87 percent, or 48 total businesses, approval rating, according to a Chamber of Commerce survey. Additionally, Petersen said the market attracts 72,000 customers during its 24-week season each year.

If the Farmer’s Market is so popular — both with business owners and with customers — why should the City Council change the location in future years? While parking may be more difficult on busy Saturday mornings, having between 2,500 and 3,000 people per week pass businesses on Main Street can only help their brand recognition and maybe even their sales.

Additionally, where could the Farmer’s Market move? Is there another area in Ames that can provide additional parking as well as offer the scenery and businesses that Main Street can? Petersen told The Daily that other locations either do not provide the needed electricity or parking and may interrupt CyRide routes.

For the businesses that do not want the Farmer’s Market on Main Street, it seems that compromise might just be the answer to their problems — not moving the entire market. Petersen said there will be more signs and spaces in between market booths so customers can access the businesses behind them. One City Council member even suggested creating a shuttle to improve parking and access for the elderly or those with disabilities.

Creative solutions like these are the answer to Farmer’s Market location concerns. Keeping a popular attraction in one of our most historic locations around town is something our community can be proud of.