New Douglasville market causes vendor exodus

Technically speaking, Douglasville has a new farmers market. In practical terms, though, an existing market just moved a few miles down the road.

The Douglasville Farmers Market launched Sept. 1 as part of the city’s Main Street program. Held downtown in O’Neal Plaza, it will run 3 to 7 p.m. every Thursday through Oct. 20.

Quite by accident, though, it quashed another market in its midst. For the past year, Crossroads Church on Stewart Parkway has hosted a Thursday afternoon indoor market it called 10:10 Farmers Market (Long story: The market was held in the church’s lobby next to its Cafe 10:10, named after biblical scripture John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”) Though anchored by some devoted vendors, the market never really found its footing in the broader community.

Main Street Douglasville manager Stephanie Aylworth was unaware of the Crossroads market when she planned the new Douglasville market. But the vendors, many of whom are based in Douglasville or nearby, let her know of the conflict. “Some of the vendors from that market decided to come here,” she says. “The vendors were really the ones that wanted to move it to the downtown.”

There are plenty of good reasons for the switch. The city already has a network (and budget) in place to promote events, and it can more easily attract entertainers and new vendors. Aylworth is a skilled coordinator with lots of experience moving people and equipment in and out of the host space. The public plaza is known among residents as a gathering place. With 13 vendors signed up already, it has room to grow to about 20. “This is to bring something into the downtown that brings foot traffic and a sense of community,” Aylworth says.

Still, it’s a little sad that a faith community’s good act of sharing its facilities with its neighbors, in the name of good food, must discontinue.

Two weeks ago, Café 10:10 Market manager Marie Crowe broke the news to market regulars in an e-mail: “I believe that the probability of Douglasville successfully sustaining two markets on the same night, at the same time is not likely,” she wrote. “Therefore, we are inviting you to support the Douglasville Market as it begins next Thursday, knowing that you will see most of the same vendors you have grown to love.” Today she told me, “There’s a saying in church—’Don’t love the ministry so much that you forget the mission.’ … I’m glad that this market is going to be big enough for the community to enjoy it.”

I visited Crossroad’s market once or twice and felt very welcome there. But I’ll look forward to exploring this new market in the coming weeks, which including farms Abundant Harvest Gardens, Heritage Farm and Ivabell Acres, as well as Zocalo salsas, Fairywood Thicket jams, Johnston Dairy Farm milk, and others.

“We had an excellent turnout last week—some of the vendors sold out,” Aylworth says. “If it stays well attended, we will bring it back in the spring.”