Joyce Skinner would like Downtown Salmon Arm to rethink the location of the Downtown Farmer’s Market.
The market runs Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. along the portion of Hudson Avenue between Alexander and Ross streets as well as at the Ross Street Plaza.
Skinner is the owner of Ye Old Curiosity Shoppe, usually accessed by a laneway off Hudson near Pharmasave but with no street frontage, and also with laneway access off the Trans-Canada Highway.
She wrote a letter to council in June and was interviewed by the Observer in July. Her concern is that her sales have been dramatically reduced since the farmer’s market moved to Hudson Avenue where the street is closed to vehicular traffic.
Skinner said Saturdays used to be her best day.
“It’s been six weeks now and the biggest sale I’ve had on a Saturday is $25.”
On July 23, the afternoon of the interview, she said her biggest sale so far that day was $7. The week prior, zero.
She said she has heard concerns about the closure both from customers as well as other businesses.
“I’m not just talking about myself. I’ve had the store here for 28 years, paid my taxes, I pay all the dues; it’s only fair that maybe a discussion should have been made and told me that the street has been blocked off, with no access in.”
She suggested other potential locations for the market would be Blackburn Park or the Westgate Public Market parking lot. She said she finds it bizarre that more parking spaces would be taken away on top of those lost during construction of the Ross Street Underpass.
Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond brought up Skinner’s letter at the June 27 council meeting. She said she wanted to make sure Downtown Salmon Arm (DSA) and Shuswap Food Action were aware of the concerns and Skinner was aware of the rationale.
City staff said DSA had spoken to Skinner about the numbers of people the market brings to downtown and had suggested different marketing could help bring people to her business.
Skinner said she didn’t hear back from the city but confirmed she did hear from Downtown Salmon Arm representatives. She said one of the suggestions was to have someone walk around in vintage clothing to attract customers, but that would mean spending more.
Jennifer Broadwell, Downtown Salmon Arm Improvement Association manager, told the Observer in an email that the association, with its board of directors and staff, thinks the addition of the Downtown Farmer’s Market “has been overwhelmingly positive for our members since it began in 2018. We witness an increase of 1,500 visitors downtown on Saturdays during the market’s operational hours in peak season, and we believe that is a great opportunity for our downtown retailers, services providers, and restaurateurs.”
She said like any street closure in the downtown core, they’re not always met with support from all DSA members.
“When this occurs, we do our best to understand the concerns of those business owners and try to find solutions together with staff-to-business visits. With our members, we are a team who is always striving to make Downtown Salmon Arm a more desirable place to visit and do business.
“While we are the stewards of the downtown core, we are not the owners. Downtowns are the heart of their communities, and our association believes providing a reason for our neighbors and visitors to spend time here is a good thing.”
Skinner said she will be selling her business by year’s end due to health concerns.
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