Farmers Market Association, Downtown Development ready to move on
The association is moving a few blocks away from the downtown Wichita Falls Farmers Market at 8th and Ohio streets. Starting Aug. 20, there will be two farmers markets in the downtown area.
The farmers market at 8th and Ohio will now be managed by Downtown Development, while the Farmers Market Association will manage its new location at 8th and Austin. Both are excited to start this new journey.
“I got to tell ya, it has been a blessing in disguise,” Scott Poenitzsch, Farmers Market Association president, said. “We have got three times as much booth space and no parking issues, it is great.”
As Downtown Development and the Farmers Market Association parted ways after not being able to reach a new lease agreement, both operations are moving forward.
“We are working on maintenance upgrades right now,” Jana Schmader, Downtown Wichita Falls Development executive director, said. “There is a lot of things that can be upgraded in the market to make it more friendly, more accessible for the public and to make it safer. So we have a whole maintenance plan that we are working on and just aesthetically some upgrades that we can do there.”
The Farmers Market Association looked at more than 20 venues to choose from for its new location. Officials decided to use the area at OneLife Community Church on 8th and Austin for several reasons.
“We are so excited because this solves a lot of our problems,” Poenitzsch said. “As you can see, the area that I am in is probably three times the size of our current location, which compliments our expanded growth that we have been doing these last two seasons. Also, the parking situation is completely solved by adequate parking on the street, as well as the lots adjacent to us.”
And the association is happy with its new lease agreement with the church.
“It is well within our parameters that we needed to spend or could spend and we are willing to help out here at the church and they are willing to help us,” Poenitzsch said.
Downtown Development is ready to take on its finances as well.
“We will be paying 50% of those stall fees only back to the city,” Schmader said. “All of our rentals that we have there for-profit, nonprofit, we will pay 50% of that back. Any business generated we will be paying that back.”
Schmader said their financial team has sat down and determined they will be able to afford these costs while keeping the vendors fees at $20-25, but both are preparing to start with fewer vendors as the current ones are deciding between staying or leaving with the association.
“We are seeing quite a bit of vendors coming with us and I have seen a couple of new names pop in there too so we are pretty excited about where we will be,” Poenitzsch said.
“We know that we have a healthy amount that are choosing to stay right now,” Schmader said. “I think vendors were trying to figure out the situation and continue to process the information. So far we have received a lot of support from the vendors wanting to stay in that location.”
While two locations down the street from each other may spark competition, both believe there will be no problems moving forward.
“We certainly don’t look at it as competition,” Schmader said. “Having two farmers markets in Wichita Falls could be a good thing. We look at it as an opportunity, having them both in downtown also drives more traffic down here.”
“Absolutely not,” Poenitzsch said. “Everybody that is a vendor in the farmers market is an independent business. They can choose their own sites, their own properties, wherever they want to go. I welcome anybody to choose here or choose downtown.”
The new beginning will start on Aug. 20. Members from both sides said they appreciate everything that was done during their time together, but both are excited to begin a new chapter.
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