When Uptown Columbus, Inc., started its Market Days in 2007, no one could have predicted the success.
What began with less than 10 vendors scattered on the east side of the 1000 block of Broadway has grown exponentially. The market, held on Saturday mornings in the spring, summer and fall, now has between 150 and 175 vendors, selling everything from fresh produce to homemade baked goods to hand-crafted pens and key chains.
Richard Bishop, president of Uptown Columbus, Inc., certainly didn’t see Market Days becoming as large as it is today.
“I wish I would have been that smart,” he said.
It now takes up the better part of three blocks, stretching from in front of CB&T at the corner of Broadway and 12th Street to the 900 block of Broadway in front of the RiverCenter for Performing Arts.
If you walk it slowly, spend a little money and chat with folks along the way, it can take an hour to work your way from one end to the other.
Market Days is a clear reflection of the positive things happening downtown. And, at least for my money, there are two critical forces that are pushing the success of Market Days. First, people want fresh, home-grown produce. Second, they want homemade goodies like breads, jams, cakes and the like.
“There is no question people are looking for the farm-to-table produce; that is a big piece of it,” Bishop said.
But only about 25 percent of the vendors sell fresh produce and food products, according to Bishop. This year, they have been congregating many of those food vendors in the 900 block median — not all of them but enough if you live in the Historic District, you can do most of your shopping in that area.
But there is another element to the success of Market Days; and that is the social side of it. For three hours on Saturday mornings, people are pulled into downtown to shop and socialize.
And there is almost always another event swirling around Market Days. Last week, it was a 5k run that was based in the 1100 block median. The buzz created by these runs and other events just add to the attraction of Market Days and to the social experience.
This week, the Fourth of July falls on Saturday and Market Days will be up running. The Springer Theater Academy is planning to do its annual parade through Market Days.
I can’t think of anything more American than to go downtown, buy some peaches and a few vine-ripe tomatoes and watch a bunch of kids parade through the street on the Fourth of July.
Sounds like a plan.