Despite protests from local florists, a weekly open-air farmers market will be inaugurated Saturday in Corona del Mar.
The market will operate in public parking lots at Marguerite Avenue and Bayside Drive.
Corona del Mar retail florists are opposed to the new market, contending it will take away business from flower shops. Five flower shops are within walking distance of the market, and three more are a few miles away.
"It hurts local florists who have high overhead costs," said Joseph P. Monigal, owner of Corona del Mar Flowers, one block from the market.
Farmers market florists typically sell bouquets from buckets at lower prices because there are no middlemen.
"It's unfair competition," Monigal said.
The market, which will offer fresh produce from county-certified farmers, will be open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Karen Talbot, a Corona del Mar resident, and Rick Heil, a farmer representing independent local growers, originated the idea for the farmers market. They met with city officials in February to discuss concerns raised by residents and local merchants.
Traffic and parking were the main issues, but city planners have said the market will have little impact on vehicle congestion.
Other area merchants say the market will spruce up commerce in the area, and residents are glad they'll be able to buy home-grown produce locally rather than in neighboring cities.
"The majority of merchants say the market is a good idea," said Luvena Hayton, a merchant in Corona del Mar. "However, we do recognize that it may hurt our local florists."