By JEFF CLEMETSON | La Mesa Courier
Grossmont Center is going big on markets.
In addition to a craft-oriented market it already holds on some Saturdays, starting July 24 the shopping center will hold a farmers market on Wednesday afternoons. And also, Grossmont Center has thrown its hat into the ring to take over La Mesa’s Friday Farmers Markets as well.
Trevor Moore, Grossmont Center’s director of public relations and events, explained how the new Wednesday market would differ from the shopping center’s existing and possible future markets.
“It’s going to be a producer-only market,” he said “We are not really going to support the local artisanal community or crafters or self-makers at this particular event. We have another market on the last Saturday of every month called our Shop Local Market which we do have available for anybody to set up a booth — artisanal goods, crafts, things of that nature. This market on Wednesdays is going to be producer only, so just produce.”
The next Shop Local market is June 29, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will be partnered with a health fair put on by East County Chamber of Commerce and Sharp Healthcare.
“We are trying to provide a home for other organizations to partner with us that are good for East County,” Moore said.
For the Wednesday markets, Grossmont has teamed up with the La Mesa Parks & Recreation Foundation and some of the proceeds from the events will go to fund park projects in the city.
“I’m all about sustainability,” Moore said. “My feeling is that if you have a really decent cause for what you’re doing and supporting that with your dollars, that’s really good, not only for your own business but also for who you’re donating those dollars to.”
The new Wednesday markets won’t be the first time Grossmont Center has held farmers markets. Moore said the center held a market that was “short-lived” a few years ago.
“It didn’t end up panning out,” he said. “I think the location of it, the produce that was there, the food trucks — there wasn’t a whole lot to attract people to this market and it didn’t end up being consistent.”
Moore also believes that the partnership with the La Mesa Parks & Recreation Foundation could mean the difference in success for the new market.
“I think that was the sustainability piece that we missed with the last market, engaging the community in a way that you’re not just supporting a shopping mall and farmers, but you’re supporting local parks,” he said. “I think that that is a much better way when you’re thinking about voting with your dollars to ensure long-term success and viability. People are always going to look for opportunities to give back in those ways.”
As far as the market competing with established stores that lease from Grossmont Center, Moore said it shouldn’t be an issue.
“We felt that given our tenant mix and given the fact that Walmart and Target are certainly not hurting, that we feel that providing the community with more access to healthy foods is a good idea,” he said.
The Wednesday market, aptly named Grossmont Center Farmers Market, will be held 2-6 p.m. The market will start with around 10 produce vendors in the first couple weeks and grow to 15 by August, Moore said. The market will be held in the shopping center’s west court, along the grassy hill parallel to the Target parking garage near the Center Drive and Jackson Drive entrances close to Dollar Tree and CVS.
Because the market will be held on private property, the Wednesday market will not need permits from the city to operate.
“We’ve been doing events at the shopping center for about five years under the current management — about a hundred events a year — so to get CUPs for all hundred events is kind of crazy, so the city throws us a bone and says, ‘Just continue to operate in a way that puts the interests of La Mesans first and continue to run great, high-quality, family-friendly events,’” Moore said.
However, for Grossmont Center to take over the La Mesa Friday Farmers Market, it will need to get approval from the City Council, like every other entity that has applied to run the longtime event. And to do that, Moore and Grossmont Center hopes their pitch to the city that they are best suited to run the popular weekly event that currently operates in the downtown Village will win over enough council members to move it to their property.
“We are looking out for La Mesa. We want to build a market that is a destination market — like the Hillcrest Farmers Market, like the Little Italy Farmers Market, like the La Jolla Farmers Market — where these markets are really commerce centers,” Moore said. “They’re not just quote end quote farmers markets but they are bringing local business, local entrepreneurs and people of those like minds into one place at once.
“And as a shopping mall, I don’t think that anybody should be surprised that we are still trying to keep relevant and bring traffic into our shopping center,” he continued. “Obviously we made a determination that markets are an effective way to do that, so that’s why we threw our hat in the ring [for the Friday market].”
— Reach Jeff Clemetson at email@example.com.