Thursday, March 15, 2012

Is it better than Soulard's? Yes.

During a recent trip to Kansas City, Missouri, I had a chance to check out their farmer's market and boy, have they got St. Louis beat.  I guess St. Louis could have had a better farmer's market had they kept the large market open, where the Drury used to be downtown.  I know we have the Soulard market, but it pales in comparison to KC's market.

According to the flyer, the City Market of Kansas City was founded in 1857.  This spot was used for everything from trading, farmer's selling goods, horse shows, medicine shows and even circuses.  There are as many as 100 different stalls for people to enjoy at this market.  What I like about this farmer's market, is that the buildings are set up so they can be both indoor and outdoor.  It would be as if the sellers at Soulard's market would open up the doors behind them to allow fresh air and people to come from all sides to purchase their foods and goods.  The City Market has about 10,000 square feet of space for sellers.  The buildings are old, and one side has two stories and the other has one.  So, if you were to walk inside a random building, you would see a large garage door to your right, that opens up to the back of an outside vendor's area.  In the middle is a large walkway and on the left is a store.  It could be described as a strip mall, with a permanent awning and giant garage door on the other side, to allow for more open-air room for stalls.

I enjoyed seeing this large space for vendors and farmers and thought of how St. Louis, or in particular, Soulard cannot accomplish this because it is land-locked into a tight space.  The City Market also has a decent sized parking area.  It would be like building a market in a horse-shoe pattern of buildings and using the space in the middle as parking.  They even had covered walkways for you to access towards your car.

This is an image of this guy who I will refer to as the "Spice Trader.  This man spoke English and Arabic and had to have over 10 pounds of every spice you can think of or not even imagine.  He had whole star anise, cinnamon sticks and curry powder mixes.  He had every spice that you would need or even want for every cuisine imaginable.  Because, whatever his clients need, he gets so he can get their business.  His prices were cheap as well and we stocked up on spices and took them on the trip home.

You can also see by the way that the structure is made, that by that garage door being there, it not only brings in natural light, but also allows for this seller to have more room.  Opposite of his stand, is a store, specializing in dried fruits and also has many Middle Eastern goods and foods.

So, the bottom line, can St. Louis make a market like this so large and easy for people to access?  Yes.  Will they?  No.  I figure that no one wants to make a farmer's market that could compete with Soulard because of its historical significance and the possibility of causing it to close or run out of business.  So, unless people near to the market come up with some ideas to extend it and make it bigger and better without hurting it, St. Louis may always be stuck with a small farmer's market.

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