ROYAL OAK, Mich., Oct. 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Since opening in 1925, vendors at the Royal Oak Farmers Market have experienced the most challenging 15-months in its history as a result of the shortsighted planning by city leaders that eliminated most of the market's conveniently located surface parking.
The 2019 season has continued to shed a dark light on the struggle farmers are experiencing from parking, construction and a dwindling customer base. The market has seen the loss of several long-standing farmers resulting in an increase in cottage food items and non-food vendors.
"The Mayor and majority of the commission claim the market is a high priority, but ignore the fact that it was the unprecedented no-bid City Center Development that eliminated more than 80 percent of the existing surface parking adjacent to the market," said Kim Gibbs Royal Oak city commissioner. "I hope our citizens get out and vote in November to restore some sensibility and transparency to the Mayor's office and commission."
In recent years many farmers have been wary about their future at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, claiming business is just not what it used to be. Sales and shoppers have continued to decline over the past 18 months, plummeting to a sales decline of 20-to-30 percent. The market also is battling the recent growth of alternative shopping options for produce and fresh farm goods.
Heather Rosencrantz, founder of Dirty Girl Farm, began her business out of the Royal Oak Farmers Market in the early 1990s and grew the business into a collection of more than 400 vegan and organic skincare products.
"Leaving the market after 25-years was not an easy decision," said Rosencrantz. "However, when even my most loyal customers stopped coming in because of parking and construction I knew we were in big trouble. My customers said a parking structure was not a viable solution and now that's been proven."
In August, Rosencrantz left the market to focus on her national on-line sales distribution; she cites declining customer traffic and plummeting sales of more than 50 percent for not renewing the long-standing lease.
For Rosencrantz, she is hoping that voters flip the administration in November and put in a mayor and commissioners who care more about the city, residents and the farmers market than themselves. "We had something really amazing here at the market for many years. Unfortunately, this gem is suffering thanks to the current city administration and it's heartbreaking for the residents of Royal Oak and many others in southeastern Michigan."
Rosencrantz and others are dismayed by city leaders hypocritical actions by claiming the importance of the market to Royal Oak while eliminating convenient parking, tearing down the atrium for a road and inflicting damage to market vendors and patrons.
For more information, visit the Save the Farmer's Market website, www.savethefarmersmarket.com.
About the Take Back Royal Oak Coalition:
The Take Back Royal Oak Coalition is comprised of business and property owners in Royal Oak looking to expose the lack of transparency and mismanagement by the city's government in order to restore honesty and integrity to City Hall. www.takebackroyaloak.com
SOURCE The Take Back Royal Oak Coalition