Downtown produce markets to compete - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Downtown produce markets to compete

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Maybe the third time will be the charm for a Downtown Albany farmers market.   The Southwest Georgia Community Food Alliance will give a market another shot beginning in May.    

Organizers say this one will succeed, but it worries a business owner who plans to open her own market in a few weeks.

The farmer's market will be located at the corner of Broad Avenue and Jackson Street every Saturday for nearly 30 weeks beginning in May.  The co-owner of another produce market set to open next month says she's all for competition, but she doesn't want this market to draw her customers away.

Work is in progress to bring you the downtown Fresh Market.  A place for you to get locally grown, seasonal produce.  But plans are also in the works to bring you a farmer's market, where you can get the same things, operated by a non-profit organization to benefit local growers.

David Milliner said, "We live in Southwest Georgia.  This is a big business in this state and this part of the country.  We should be taking advantage of it and people are really calling for it."

It's a call BJ Fletcher says she's listened to. That's why she has put up her own money to open up a market on Washington Street.  She said, "You know I'm all for downtown and I'm all for competition.  I just hope that they aren't just going to pull from the locals."

Fletcher says if the farmer's market pulls in people who would not normally shop downtown, it will be great for all the businesses here.  She said, "If somebody can come to this area that can pull other people here and people from Cordele, Sylvester, Valdosta, Dawson, etc. can see what Albany is all about, I'll be their biggest cheerleader."

And that's what organizers say they are planning to do.  Milliner said, "We're working with 22 other counties to make sure we don't fail.  We want to make sure that product is readily available.  We want to make sure that product is top notch."

But, if they don't pull those outsiders in, Fletcher says it could hurt her business.  She said, "Nobody needs to be sitting on a monopoly, but I want the people that have stepped up to the table and have put their hard earned money into downtown when nobody else would do it, I want them to be on the forefront."

And the hope is that both markets can help grow the downtown economy.

The downtown Fresh market is planning to open April 16th, the downtown farmer's market should begin on May 28th and organizers expect about 1500 people to show up that first day, if that's true, it will definitely bring more foot traffic to downtown which should benefit other businesses here.    

In order for the farmer's market to use that space owned by Dougherty County, they must supply a one million dollar insurance policy.


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