Fewer people shopped at the Ambleside Artisan Farmer’s Market in 2017 than the previous year, according to a staff report presented to the council recently.
Sales were down as much as 15 per cent in 2017 at the farmers market in Ambleside for Christine Bain, the owner of Dahlias Forever. Bain has been a regular vendor at the Ambleside market but the change in location and lack of parking meant fewer customers in 2017. She says there was a moment in the summer when she did consider moving to a new market but ended up staying at Ambleside.
In 2017, the district of West Vancouver moved the market from the street to the Ambleside Park and hopes to find a permanent location for the market. Bain says customers told her it was easy to shop when the market was on the street but now some of them had to walk five or six blocks because of insufficient parking in the park.
“There were a few times when I said, ‘This is not good. Where is everybody?’ I noticed the difference and most people said it was inconvenient for them to find parking even though the atmosphere at the park was really nice. People also had to walk five or six blocks and there were no bank machines at the park,” she says.
Bain plans to revisit the market location in July this year and evaluate if this would be a good fit for her. “If they change locations, it is going to be hard for the vendors and the customers because then you are not really sure where you are going,” she says.
Even though the market is in a popular location, further work is required to keep traffic and parking flow moving throughout the park, the report says, adding that the people with mobility devices had expressed concerned that access to the new location in the park was difficult
The numbers bear Bain’s anxiety about the market. Fewer people shopped at the Ambleside Artisan Farmer’s Market in 2017 than the previous year, according to a staff report presented to the council recently. “This year’s market had a lower attendance than in previous years with a variable number of shoppers ranging from 500 to 2,000 per day and overall 33,800 adults and 5,300 children throughout the season and the lower attendance translated into below-average sales for most vendors,” according to the report. Even though the market is in a popular location, further work is required to keep traffic and parking flow moving throughout the park, the report says, adding that the people with mobility devices had expressed concerned that access to the new location in the park was difficult.
Overall sales were slightly down for Greendale Herb and Vine but owner Doug Lowe says he recorded low sales in the first few months and they picked up as more people got to know about the new location of the market. Lack of parking also added to fewer people coming to the market, even though Lowe says the location is perfect for a farmers market. “It’s a good market because it’s in a fantastic park right by the beach, with a lot of tourists roaming around and it has washrooms nearby. It’s a great location with a beautiful view,” he says. The organisers, he says, should try to promote the market a few months before it starts in May.
District of West Vancouver spokesperson Donna Powers said there were no plans to move the market again in 2018, and it would stay at the same location until a permanent home could be found as part of the Ambleside Waterfront Plan.
District of West Vancouver spokesperson Donna Powers said there were no plans to move the market again in 2018, and it would stay at the same location until a permanent home could be found as part of the Ambleside Waterfront Plan. Powers said the change in location might have been a factor in low sales and attendance. “Sales and attendance were also down at the Great Stuff Christmas market at the Ferry Building Gallery, and that market has been a tradition for many years that has not moved location. In addition, different types of products at the farmer’s market experienced different sales experiences. It may be a combination of several factors,” she said.
Tara Immell, general manager for the market, said even though the attendance was low, the public response to the artisan market has been quite positive and there were benefits to the current location, including plenty of parking and a large gravel parking lot that both vendors and customers could use immediately adjacent to handicap parking; a temporary drop-off/pick-up zone at the bocce ball court near the playground; public washrooms; and a beautiful seaside setting.
“The District of West Vancouver has been very supportive throughout the move and we are discussing ways to bring more visibility to the market including a customer loyalty program, social media posts, signage, and community pop-up markets,” she said.
The farmers market is now operating year-round at the Lonsdale Quay Market and vendors now bring goods that they grow, make, bake, and raise and wild harvest to the Quay every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm. Immell said she was open to hearing suggestions from the public that would help make the Saturday and Sunday morning farmers market on the North Shore even better for the community. The indoor season is currently running and the outdoor season starts again on May 5.
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