The Westwood Farmers Market has been the center of local controversy over the past several months, with vendors, organizers and local businesses unable to come to an agreement on the market’s management, location and date.
At the center of the conflict are the market vendors and the “brick-and-mortar” merchants in Westwood, or those who have physical storefronts in the Village.
Storefront merchants maintain their businesses are threatened by the market vendors, who can easily sell their wares without the stresses of rent, insurance and overhead, said Steve Sann, chair of the Westwood Community Council.
However, the market is open for only six hours, once a week. While this hardly constitutes a completely imbalanced competition, it is still important to reach a compromise that would appease both parties while maintaining such an important feature of the Westwood community.
For all the back-and-forth between both sides, there are two viable solutions that could resolve the squabble over the market’s location ““ currently on Broxton Avenue ““ and the day on which it is held, Thursdays.
One suggestion is that the farmers market should partner with UCLA and host the market on the corner of Le Conte Avenue and Westwood Boulevard, on the campus property of the UCLA Health System, Sann said.
This proposal strikes an ideal middle ground.
The suggested space, which is large enough to accommodate the size of the market, is rarely used by the university and would provide a halfway point between campus, the North Village and Westwood Village.
For a local farmers market, visibility is key, a factor the market currently lacks in its tucked-away location on Broxton Avenue. By establishing the market outside of Westwood’s already congested business district, local shop owners would find room to breathe and market vendors would be provided a better-exposed venue to run their operation.
By allowing the market to be held on campus, UCLA would demonstrate a willingness to accommodate and support local community events, and the move could provide groundwork for later collaboration between community organizations and the university.
Carly Yoshida, USAC General Representative 2, said that while bringing the Westwood Farmers Market to campus is something they’ve never considered, her office would be interested in reaching out to them, noting that they’ve collaborated in the past to find vendors for the on-campus market.
The second issue is the market’s date and time.
Store owners who line Broxton Avenue, between Weyburn and Kinross Avenues, indicated that the market’s timing ““ every Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. ““ has a negative impact on their businesses.
Michael Kohan, owner of Michael K. Jewelers on Broxton Avenue, said he receives reduced business on Thursdays as a result of the market. He added that the parking buildup that results from the market’s timing can deter his customers from coming in on market day.
If the market’s date were moved to Sundays, there would be less overlap with the hours of local businesses, and members of the community might find more time to stop by during their day off.
A Sunday market would also attract more students, since the timing would no longer interfere with classes. And while there may be more competition on weekends with bigger farmers markets such as those in Santa Monica, students ““ especially those without cars ““ would continue to have a market conveniently located in their neighborhood.
Email Tashman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send general comments to email@example.com or tweet us @DBOpinion.