Freeport, Illinois — When you’re just a small and meek little farmers market and you don’t create that much buzz for yourself, everyone loves you don’t they. “Come on in to our parking lot, we’d love to have the business” you’ll often hear.
But when you’re smart and you grow and you get to the point where you’re offering goods and services just as good (if not better) as someone much bigger than you, there’s always that one ‘big boy’ out there who will do everything they can to try and stop you.
Because your little endeavor now threatens the big fish of the sea and of course, we just can’t have any of that going on can we.
Essentially, that’s just what happened recently with the Stephenson County Farmers Market, previously located in the Southgate Market shopping center in Freeport. In this particular shopping center you’ll find a detail shop, a cigarette store, a Chinese restaurant, a dollar store, grocery store, a donut shop and a restaurant and bar. Up until a week ago it was also the location where you could find the popular Stephenson County Farmers Market.
In an announcement made on May 19th, the Stephenson County Farmers Market said they will be no longer located in the Southgate Market shopping center parking lot. The reason, because they were given 2 weeks to vacate the lot by the property manager due to bringing “too much” traffic into the shopping center location. News you’d think any business owner would be happy to report but apparently, not so much in this case.
While the Stephenson County Farmers Market does have a new (downtown) location chosen, they weren’t the only ones to receive a complaint about filling up the parking lot.
During the (2nd) annual Race Car day, put together by Logan’s (bar and restaurant), the police were actually called on the event (by someone) claiming that their business was losing business because of the event that day.
As for the future of the Stephenson County Farmers Market, they will now be located on Exchange street in downtown Freeport. On Saturdays from 8 – 12 and Tuesdays from 12 – 3, the street will be blocked off from Chicago Ave. to Galena Ave. (essentially from This Is It Eatery to the courthouse) and vendors will be set up on the street. Saturday, June 2 will be the Market’s first day open at their new location.
“Having cars in a parking lot is a good problem to have”, according to one person. “That means your customers are spending money”, they said. “Asking a business to move because the parking lot is full is not progress.”
As for downtown people, they’re loving it. From what we’ve seen, downtown Freeport welcomes the added traffic and potential business to their local stores. “We feel that this move will be a very positive thing not only for us, but also for the City of Freeport and the downtown businesses as well”, the Stephenson County Farmers Market said last week.
In the future, maybe if the complainer of the group marketed themselves better, maybe they could fill the parking lot too. Or perhaps, the other businesses in the shopping center could have partnered with these events that bring people to their shopping center, and everyone could have benefited.
Either way, it’s water under the bridge now. We just hope everyone will continue to support the Stephenson County Farmers Market — and now more than ever. If there’s a particular store that is having a problem with so many cars in their parking lot, then perhaps they’d be happier if their parking lot was empty.