Farmville Community Marketplace

Published 4:58 pm Thursday, February 6, 2014

FARMVILLE — Town Council is poised to vote next week to create and then advertise to fill the position of market manager for the Farmville Community Marketplace, which will operate in the Farmers Market facility on North Street on Saturdays from April through the end of October.

The position has been recommended by the Town’s Farmers Market Committee.

“I think it’s important that we get the market manager on board,” town manager Gerald Spates said of the position that will be paid $75 for every day the market is open. “…Hopefully we’ll get some good people who are interested in doing it.”

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Until April, Town officials stressed during town council’s February work session, the Heart of Virginia Farmers Market Association, the renamed group that formally used the Town’s facility, is free to resume using it, free of charge.

“We have told the farmers market group right now they can use the market as they wish on Wednesdays and Saturdays just like they have been doing,” Spates said. “Without paying anything.”

Town council is also poised to adopt draft regulations for the Farmville Community Marketplace and is expected to take action during its meeting next Wednesday night.

“I think the people that we have on the committee are very good and all we’re trying to do is make the farmers market better,” Spates said, adding that he has received many positive phone calls about the Town’s plans to expand use of the facility.

The proposed regulations describe the marketplace as being designed “to be a hub for community activities. The Marketplace is a multifaceted public/private facility which showcases our community by providing a venue for outdoor events, including a farmers market, a multi-dealer open market, festivals, reunions, weddings, etc.”

The purpose of the committee is to ensure the orderly operation of the market “while striking a fair balance between all participants.”

The marketplace will be under the supervision of the Farmville Community Marketplace Committee and town council. The committee will be responsible for recruiting and approving vendors, establishing and enforcing Marketplace policies, and promoting the Marketplace, distributing marketing materials and supervising daily operations.

The market manager will be responsible for the actual operation of the Farmville Community Marketplace in the North Street facility, including fostering community support, helping to promote the market and to be on site, rain or shine, while the market is open. That presence will include greeting all shoppers, coordinating vendor placement, and answering vendor and shopper questions.

The Marketplace committee members are town council member Jamie Davis, Spates, Pam Butler, Steve Wall and Allison Crews.

If the regulations are adopted, the cost of being a vendor will be $5 a day for each ten-foot by ten-foot space. There are no membership dues and no association to join.

“The whole concept of making a taxpayer-funded venue an exclusive (activity)…it doesn’t fly, it doesn’t work,” town council member David E. Whitus said. “The whole thing was paid for with tax dollars so therefore it’s got to be open to the public.”

Davis, speaking from his town council and committee perspective, said, “council’s desire was to see the committee broaden the base, to be able to open it up and make it a multi-faceted scenario on those market days, on Saturdays especially…and I think the committee has worked really hard to make sure—several times reminding ourselves, ‘Hey, listen, the goal is to broaden this as the council has asked.’ So I think under the direction of (chairperson Sally Thompson, Ward B council member) it’s done an exceptional job of keeping that at the forefront—how we can broaden this, make it larger and open to the public to create a hub down there, to create a spot where a lot is happening.

“The potential will, obviously, take time to develop,” Davis continued. “It’s not something that’s going to be an overnight type situation. I think we’re going to see…that develop into a situation where it is a place where people are excited about going on Saturdays and doing a multi-faceted type of shopping experience.”

Davis acknowledged there will be some people who “won’t be super excited and some that will but we really hope everybody gives it a chance because I think it could benefit everybody…”

Council member Tommy Pairet agreed, saying, “we’re moving in the right direction.”

And Thompson added, “People will be happy in the end.”

Or, as Davis put it, “We’ll move ahead, with council’s approval, and we’ll rock and roll.”