The city is one step closer to beginning its plans for the Madison Public Market after receiving feedback from a group of vendors Tuesday night.
The Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit organization based out of New York is helping the city design and plan the new public market the city has been discussing for more than 10 years. Kelly Verel, senior associate with Project for Public Spaces, said they held the meeting to gain perspective from potential vendors who may be interested in selling their products at the market.
“I think our tact with this was not to come in and say OK this is what all these other places did and this is what you should do, but to really hear from the vendors first and foremost of what their needs really are,” Verel said.
Though there are no set plans yet for the market, Verel and Senior Director of Public Markets David O’Neil presented case studies of different public markets in Detroit, Santa Fe, N.M.,Vancouver and New York City.
O’Neil said there is no one way to construct a public market and all have their own unique styles and characteristics.
O’Neil added part of the reason for holding the forum was to understand how enthusiastic local vendors are about the potential market, and what they expect from it.
“A public market can be many different things,” O’Neil said. “And the best ones are a reflection of their place, so what is the best public market for Madison?”
Verel said they are also interested in different infrastructure, retailing and wholesaling needs of potential vendors. She said it is likely the market would feature only locally grown and produced products.
Dan Kennelly, the city representative in charge of planning the market, said he knows Madison has a diverse group of people with different needs. He said the process for planning the market will reflect that.
“As with everything in Madison, we have to hash it out Madison-style,” Kennelly said.
Kennelly said the difference between the new public market and the existing Dane County Farmers’ Market would be that the public market would be an enclosed, permanent structure. It would remain open all year-round and could offer more than just produce or foods, he said.
Kennelly said the intention of the new public market would not be to “compete with” or take away from the Dane County Farmers’ Market.
Though the Dane County Farmers’ Market is the largest in the country and successful, O’Neil said some vendors may want more business opportunities.
“A lot of farmers or businesses in a farmers’ market are ready to take a next step,” O’Neil said. “They would like to be open more days. They would like to be able to do more production. So, the Dane County Farmers’ market, as beloved as it is, is somewhat limiting in opportunities.”
Both O’Neil and Verel said they hope students will take advantage of the new market when it is complete.
O’Neil said though students may not be the biggest spenders at these kinds of venues, he hopes students will still be frequent visitors.
“The more the merrier,” O’Neil said. “I think as a student, going to a market is kind of a nice local escape … It’s another aspect to Madison that will make this a desirable place to go to school.”