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Pd0607 Open Air Markets


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This article talks about the role that markets can plan in downtown revitalization and economic development.

Published in: Real Estate, Technology, Business
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Pd0607 Open Air Markets

  1. 1. Don’t Underestimate the Potential of Open Air Markets By Michael Stumpf, July 2006 M any cities search for solutions to fill malls and similar venues, such as airport vacant buildings or restore vitality to concourses. their downtown business districts. Con- Some cities have embraced this idea, creating sidering all of this hard work, it may seem ironic indoor public markets in new buildings, old that they ignore, or even prohibit street vending warehouses, or even in conference centers, where and public marketplaces. Among the oldest forms farmer's markets or retail trade can occur on a or trade, these practices were all but eliminated in regular basis. In other places, cities have the last half of the 20th century. A handful of dedicated spaces in plazas or even on public communities are once again discovering their po- sidewalks where vendors can sell their products. tential value as economic engines. Markets are some of the most interesting and Think of the typical community festival. Along often-visited attractions in many communities. with parades and games you will usually find food Consider Pike Place Market in Seattle, the French tents and a sidewalk sale. More customers will Market (with Café du Mond) in New Orleans, or come into town on those days than any other time the native crafts market at the Governor’s Palace of the year. For the businesses displaying goods in Santa Fe, New Mexico. outside of their shop doors, these may be among the most profitable days of the year. The These marketplaces have enjoyed a great deal of organizations and individuals selling food make success in attracting people who patronize area money as well. In the same way, farmers selling businesses along with market vendors, helping to produce in roadside stands or farmer's markets revitalize the district. They do more than attract can add significantly to their farm income. What if customers, though. Public markets act as a busi- activities like these could occur more frequently, ness incubator. It takes only a small investment to or even year-round? set up a market booth, but the experience and income gained from this effort is often a catalyst The idea isn’t entirely alien. In the last decade we for the owner to establish a permanent retail lo- have seen growing use of the common area inside cation, generally in a nearby storefront. malls for this purpose. Some national retaile is conducted almost exclusively through kiosks at Place Dynamics Michael Stumpf is a consultant in community planning, economic development, and 1 market analysis, based in New Berlin, Wisconsin.
  2. 2. Creating a public market may be time consuming, Communities may want to consider limiting or but it need not be complex or expensive. Organ- prohibiting market and vending practices outside izers can begin by selecting the best location and of the targeted district. It does no good for the ensuring that city ordinances permit the types of downtown or your market to have rival vendors in activity they want to have happening. Existing the parking lot of a commercial strip along the parks, parking lots, sidewalks, public buildings, highway. and even alleys have served this purpose. Good management is a key to success. Somebody Some places will adopt a specific theme, such as a needs to advertise, enforce quality, and make sure farmer's market, apparel market, or antique vendors participate. Policing, traffic control, and market. Others will open the market to all parking may also be important considerations. vendors. Even a flea market may be the right Don't expect instant success, as it takes time to choice for some places, as in Chicago’s Maxwell recruit vendors and get the word out. Still, Street. markets can play a big role in revitalization. O In most cases, a permit system will be established to govern what may be sold, along with the hours of operation and other administrative details. This © 2006 Place Dynamics helps to preserve the character of the market and reassure customers that their expectations will be consistently met. Place Dynamics 2