The 5-year-old Downtown Arlington Farmers Market will close at the end of March unless organizers can quickly find a new location.
Former Arlington City Councilman Joe Bruner, who owns the market site at 215 E. Front St., has sold the property for redevelopment. The buyer has given the market — which opened in October 2009 and offers locally grown produce, eggs and meats; handmade jewelry and crafts; and other items — until then to vacate.
“I didn’t just purchase it for a farmers market. It was a good location. I could envision what would happen downtown,” Bruner said of the property, which is north of the railroad tracks between Division and Abram streets.
The market and an adjoining vacant lot to the west were purchased for an undisclosed amount by Alan Petsche, who recently rebuilt the Candlelight Inn restaurant at 1204 E. Division St. Plans for the Front Street site are not known. The market’s last day is expected to be March 28.
Bruner said he hopes the city will step in and not only find a new location for the market but potentially begin running it, the way Grand Prairie does.
“I just feel like for the longevity, the city needs to be involved,” Bruner said.
Bruner said he is assisting with the search. Any new location would require the city to approve a specific-use permit, a process that could take about 45 days, Deputy City Manager Jim Parajon said.
That news has vendors such as Lindy Jackson of UnHinged Homestead worried. The single mother said her booth, where she sells locally grown produce along with pastries, bread, jam and salsa and other homemade treats, is her main source of income. She spends about 16 hours a day tending her gardens, preparing food to sell and running the market, which is open every Friday and Saturday.
“We have five weeks to start moving our stuff somewhere else. Otherwise, a lot of people will be jobless,” said Jackson, who took over managing the market for Bruner early last year. “We’re the only farmers market in Arlington.”
Jacki Mayse of Ladybug Botanicals has sold handmade soap, bath salts, candles and more at the market for about three years. She’s hopeful the market can find a new home instead of shutting down for good.
“It is a business, but it is a passion,” Mayse said. “A piece of me would really be gone. There would be a hole. And there would be a hole in my income.”
Amy Berthelet of Amy’s Handmade Gifts sells handmade jewelry, cards, bookmarks and other crafts.
“Everything is made with my two hands. This is my business,” said Berthelet, who said she is on disability. “I don’t know of any other place that I could go to, other than the occasional craft fair. I certainly wouldn’t have the social interaction. It’s a family here. That would be a huge blow to me.”
Bruner said he could envision the former radiator shop, which has garage bay doors, being converted into a bar and restaurant because of its location and available on-street parking.
“It’s a neat little place. When you look at what is happening downtown, it needs to be something more stable, something that is a moneymaker for someone and something to attract more people, more nightlife,” Bruner said. “It makes a lot more sense to have a farmers market somewhere else and have that be a retail establishment.”
Jackson said she’s hoping to collect letters and emails from regular customers and other community members to show the city what kind of support the market has.
“I would like the community to back us when it comes to the city letting us start over again,” Jackson said.
Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639