Downtown merchants sponsor new farmer's market

May 27, 2010

Goldman Jewelry, J.P. Parker Flowers and Shapiro's Deli are sponsoring a new Tuesday evening farmer's market on the south side of downtown Indianapolis that starts June 1.

The South Meridian Street businesses, banding together as the Stadium Village Merchants Association, hope the market will encourage more foot traffic to an area that sits in the shadow of Lucas Oil Stadium and is often bypassed by commuters heading for highway on-ramps.

"This is not just a place you drive by," said Theresa Stites, market master for the Stadium Village Farmer's Market.

Shapiro's owner Brian Shapiro credited the idea to floral designer Pam Parker, who grows many of the flowers she uses at her business. While Shapiro's Carmel location benefits greatly from the foot traffic at the weekend farmer's market in downtown Carmel, he doesn't necessarily expect the same result from a Tuesday evening market in downtown Indianapolis.

"I kind of look at it as a benefit for the area," he said.

After deciding to pursue the idea, the business owners quickly realized they needed to hire an expert on farmer's markets, Shapiro said. Stites has been on the advisory board of the Indy Winter Farmer's Market, which is held indoors at the Chatham building on East Street, northeast of downtown. Like that market, the Stadium Village market is inviting only producers—businesses that grow, raise or make their own goods—rather than re-sellers.

The market so far has attracted 20 vendors and has space for 10 more, Stites said. Only one of the vendors will offer fruits and vegetables. Stites said she hopes that number will increase once the local farmers know that attendance will be worth their effort.

Stites thinks the market hours, 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., will be more convenient to people who work downtown and want to buy food on their way home.

Local food advocate and blogger Victoria Wesseler said she thinks the Indianapolis area can support recent growth in farmer's markets.

"Part of the theory, of course, is if you build them, they will come," she said.

Wesseler said markets throughout the city are trying to fill different niches, either by types of vendors, or timing.  "I think the markets do a very good job of differentiating themselves," she said.

The Stadium Village Farmer's Market will take place at 801 S. Meridian St., on the parking lot directly south of J.P. Parker Flowers and Healing Arts Indy. Free parking is available across Meridian Street  in the Shapiro’s lot.


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