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ISSUES

A Boon for Business or a Headache?

July 12, 1998|MICHAEL BAKER

After two months of debate and negotiations, officials agreed late last month to debut a farmers market in Studio City on Sept. 20.

The market, which will sell fresh produce, food products, flowers and other items, will prohibit traffic on Ventura Place between Laurel Canyon and Ventura boulevards from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. every Sunday. Some area shop owners believe the market will hurt business by discouraging their regular Sunday morning clientele. Others think it will be a boon to merchants.

MICHAEL BAKER asked two merchants and a neighborhood resident what they thought the market would mean to the area.

CHARLES LUDWIG / Owner, Cookbooks and Candles on Ventura Place.

It's going to be a huge, huge boost to the community. It's going to be a place where neighbors and friends can gather together on Sunday morning, buy fresh produce, visit with one another, and the farmers are going to have an opportunity to sell their product and make money for themselves also.

Second, it's going to be a tremendous boost to businesses on the street. The exposure is going to be phenomenal, with people walking around seeing the different shops, the different services that are provided that they may not have known exist, and at little or no cost to business owners.

There's only, at the moment, three or four businesses that are open on Sundays, and that's one of the reasons why the farmers market is going to be held on Sundays, so there would be no real impact on business. Those businesses that do open normally on Sundays usually open around 11 a.m., so any kind of [negative] impact is certainly going to be minimal.

In fact, the impacts are going to be great. I'm not [now] open on Sundays but I will be during the hours of the farmers market.

This area needs some attention drawn to it. It's an ideal location for a farmers market. It's an easy, closed-off street you can block off on both ends. There's parking provided. It's central in Studio City, and it's going to be great to have all the neighbors and friends and customers coming together on Sundays.

MARK WEITZ / Owner, Mark's Tropical Fish and Mark's Pet Supplies, both on Ventura Place.

I like the idea of a farmers market, don't get me wrong. I would probably go to it myself. But the people that are coming to the farmers market are not coming here expecting to go to shop on this street. They're coming here particularly for the farmers market.

It's obvious that it's going to create hardship on my customers. After being at one location for 17 years, you've built up a lot of people who have a routine, and this is going to break that routine, and it's going to cost business ultimately.

We do a lot of business between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. A lot of people have things to do during the day, and they want to get their pet stuff over with first. It's not really fair to say it's just for two hours. Our first rush comes right in that period of time. Sunday is usually one of our better days of the week.

Sunday's probably the only day in Studio City that you can find a parking a place on the street. I'm open on Sunday particularly for people that can't seem to find a parking place here during the week.

I would have preferred if they did this on a large parking lot somewhere and not in front of my store and blocking customer parking.

STEVEN GOODMAN / Retired builder who lives a block from Ventura Place.

I think it's a great idea. I would absolutely go there.

I rarely go to farmers markets because there hasn't been one close enough, but I would rather go to the farmers market and get fresh produce than go to a regular grocery store. I'll try to walk here every Sunday.

I can't understand why anybody would oppose it. I can't think of a merchant that will be affected by it, except for maybe Ralphs.

It will probably add to the parking problem in my neighborhood. But it's only like six hours a day, once a week. It will be my donation to society.

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