While gathered around a table in the middle of the mall concourse Thursday, a group of stakeholders reminisced about the “hits and misses” during an impromptu mall market for several Saturdays last fall.
The group was led by Tammy Hathaway, director of Batavia Development Corporation, who had surveyed participants for feedback about how the market went in a first-time trial run.
“What a great group of people, it’s the right group of people to assess that small little field test of using the City Centre concourse, as a little bit of momentum, like a market vendor space. We had fantastic feedback, and it was positive,” Hathaway said. “We want hits and misses, so that we can make it better, and everyone wants to move forward.”
She appreciated their honesty about the critiques, and also about the one unanimous sentiment, Hathaway said.
“Every single one of them enjoyed being in here,” she said.
Issues to be worked out include pricing — which vendors said was too high at $40 per day — and the market’s hours of 8:30 to 11 a.m.
“Batavia doesn’t wake up until 10 a.m.,” vendor Adam Garner said.
Garner, a fifth generation member of Garner Farms of Le Roy, has participated in other markets in Le Roy and Rochester, and offered his perspective about what seems to work elsewhere.
Garner Farms was a regular at Batavia’s mall market with heritage pork and chicken products, and he looks forward to continuing to be part of it.
“Overall, it was good. There were weeks that were slow, but weeks, there’s weeks that were above, that we had a lot more people than I expected. We’re hoping to get to expand as we have more people coming in here,” he said. “So we have an indoor market. There’s nothing around here. The only indoor market I know is down in Ithaca. So we do Le Roy farmers market. We’re looking into doing a couple in Rochester. I do one in the South Wedge. And then we do vendor events that we do in Le Roy. Our farm began in 1932 and it will be 100 years old.”
The group discussed moving the hours so they would linger into the early afternoon, say from 10:30 a.m. to around 1:30 p.m. Hathaway received a lot of feedback that a majority of vendors thought the total hours should be capped at three hours, with a rationale of preferring to make $150 in three hours versus $175 in four.
City maintenance worker Tom Phelps said that the mall facility used to be open to 2 p.m., and that was eventually reduced to not being open at all on Saturdays during COVID season, and now is back to being open to noon.
Other areas of consideration involve requiring vendors to have insurance coverage, making access easier for vendors with larger or bulky items, including some type of coffee station, how best to promote the event, and making it a family-friendly market with rotating activities and themes.
The general consensus of group members Loretta Delpriore of Batavia Stagecoach Florist, Katie Hobbs of Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Garner, Phelps, Pat Burk of Theater 56 and Hathaway was to resume the market on Feb. 4 with a focus on Valentine’s Day, and integrate themes from there onward. Hobbs manages a market for the village of Corfu and offered ideas to include kids in these events as well.
“So we created a very large to do-list of items to make this move forward. And it’s great to have participants, everyone who sat at this meeting today participated in the meeting, and has the same passion for seeing this building full of life,” Hathaway said. “The goal is February 4 to reinstate the Saturday mall market and have revised hours and make it totally revised.
“I think we’ll definitely go to mid to end of May,” she said. “So we’ll have a little bit of time to let everybody breathe, regroup and everything before the outdoor farmers market begins.”
Photo of Tammy Hathaway of Batavia Development Corporation, left, Loretta Delpriore of Batavia Stagecoach Florist, Pat Burk of Theater 56, Katie Hobbs of Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Adam Garner of Garner Farms and city maintenance staff Tom Phelps evaluate last year’s Saturday mall market in an effort to move forward with the concept beginning Feb. 4. Photo by Joanne Beck.