Businesses: Farmers Market a 'Great Compromise'

Market will be on Waverly Place for the first weeks, then, for the first time, Green Village Road for the final weeks.

The merchants on Waverly Place can be vocal in their opinions, which is why some of the merchants met Wednesday morning with a representative of the Downtown Development Commission to discuss ways to make the Madison Farmers Market as much of a win-win situation as possible for both the farm vendors and the Waverly Place businesses whose operations can be hampered by having vehicular traffic in front of their stores blocked on Thursday afternoons.

Merchants say the farmers market can be disruptive by, for instance, requiring delivery trucks to park farther away, or by requiring a chiropractic patient walk farther with an injury, said Nicole Francoeur, owner of at 20 Waverly Place.

Some businesses have said the associated traffic can be intimidating for regular customers who would otherwise be patronizing their shops.

And there's always a concern that anything that disrupts the fall weeks they need to build momentum leading into their crucial holiday sales season could put their businesses behind financially, merchants said.

This year, the Downtown Development Commission and the businesses are taking extra steps to make sure the farmers' market helps them as much as possible, hence the meeting Wednesday morning at , a Waverly Place shop owned by Donna Milza.

They also are changing the market's location in mid-August: the farmers market will be on Waverly Place on Thursday afternoons from June 14 to Aug. 16. After that, from Aug. 23 to Oct. 25, the market will move in front of the on Green Village Road for the first time.

Francoeur, who has opposed the market's location on Waverly Place in past, said splitting the location with Green Village Road is a "great compromise."

Market coordinator Maureen Byne has said the farmers market is meant to help the merchants and Madison's downtown as a whole, which is why the Downtown Development Commission, which sponsors the market, does not want to move it to areas that are farther away from the downtown, such as

Tunnel vision

Milza said even though there are more people on their street during the market, the market patrons tend to have "tunnel vision" and focus only on the farm stands even if the other shops have tables set up on the sidewalk.

So this year, they're planning a vendor table where Waverly Place merchants could display their wares right alongside the other vendors.

They also discussed ways farmers and merchants could be more in sync, Milza said.

For example, a farmer could display apples in a bowl from European Elegance and direct customers to the shop if they want to see more pieces like it. On the flip side, European Elegance could have samples of a farmers' crop for customers, and then direct customers to the farm stand, Milza said.

The market has been at Waverly Place the last three years. Last year was owner Lauren Rossi's first year on Waverly Place. She capitalized on it by putting out sidewalk tables with dipping oils to go with one of the farm vendors' breads.

Meanwhile, her neighbor, Stony's, sold copious amounts of lemonade she said.

Merchants should look for ways to make the most of it, Rossi said.

She also said there were occasions where people would come into her store in the weeks after visiting the farmers' market and say they didn't know her store was there until they saw it when they were at the market.

Milza said the merchants seem very excited about the market this year.

"The bottom line is, the market is going to be there," she said.


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