Based on a stroll through the Sherman Oaks Farmers Market this Saturday, the market that opened eight weeks ago appears to be gaining in popularity.
Dozens of shoppers strolled down the aisle tasting free samples, quizzing vendors and making purchases. The vacant lot used for parking was filled with cars.
“New people come up to me every week and tell me how excited they are that this is here,” said Carole Gallegos, market manager. “They tell me they are going to come back and bring their friends.”
The market, open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday, holds an advantage over the other 88 farmers markets sprinkled throughout Los Angeles—it has lots of parking.
Gallegos, who was hired by the chamber as the event’s marketing manager nine months ago, said they looked for a site for several months before finding the existing location.
The vacant lot on the corner of Sepulveda Boulevard and Camarillo Street seemed a natural choice, but was zoned for parking. The chamber’s solution was to gain city approval to locate on the side street parallel to Sepulveda and use the vacant lot for parking.
As a result, the Sherman Oaks Farmers Market has a bit of a competitive advantage.
“At the Studio City Farmers Market, people are lined up waiting for a parking spot to open up so they can park,” said Gallegos, who managed the Studio City Farmers Market for seven years. “Here, we have plenty of parking.”
The recently opened venture also has a wide selection of vendors. Wares on display include hydroponic cucumbers and lettuce, fresh berries, fresh nuts, pomegranate jelly and marinade.
In addition to the fresh fruit and vegetables that these markets are best known for, Gallegos has a rotating cast of musicians who play each week. To keep the children entertained while the parents shop, the market offers inflatable jumpers and face painting. The children can even make their own tie-dyed T-shirts at one of the booths.
For shoppers who come hungry, vendor Marcus Salvemini of Malibu Pies sells meat pies made with an organic wheat crust. Salvemini, a well-traveled South African who lives in Malibu, launched his business in 2006 working farmers markets to brand his product. He also owns Salvemini’s Italian Kitchen on Ventura Boulevard.
Christie Little, an apparel and textile designer, runs one of the more colorful booths at the farmers market.
Little and Laura McCaughrin, her chief financial officer, sell designer shopping bags that offer the eco-conscious an alternative to the reusable bags sold at grocery stores.
“Most of the bags coming out of grocery stores are not pretty,” Little said. “We wanted to encourage people to be fashionable.”
Little, who has a bachelor’s degree in apparel and textile design, and McCaughrin decided to partner on the business venture in late 2010 when the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance to eventually ban the use of plastic bags at grocery stores, Little said.