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Market vendors won't leave

Last week it was announced the Kelowna Farmers' and Crafters' Market was on the move, but some vendors are telling Castanet they are not going anywhere.

“No matter what they say, we are not going to move, we are going to stay like many others. We will be here or around here, “ adamantly said the former President of the Farmer's Market, Wine Country Bakery owner, Martin Miller.

Despite a poll within the society membership saying no to a move, the Kelowna Farmers' and Crafters' Market Society (KFCMS) Board voted 9 -1 to pursue an opportunity to move the market.

Miller and several other vendors at Wednesday's first outdoor farmers market of the season shared the same sentiment; the board did not listen to their wishes.

“I really don't think the move is going to happen. The majority voted against it and then the president came and said well we are going to move anyway. It doesn't work like that, the vote has to be honoured, period,” said Miller.

“There are more people here than just the 36 that want to go, they can go, but leave our name, leave our money and if it comes down to it we will find a good spot,” said a vendor who wished to remain anonymous.

Several vendors Castanet spoke to say the new proposed location on Clement is a bad choice and will not be successful.

“We are successful here because of this location. The centre of this city is right here, at the mall, and that is the best place for a farmers' market. They have tried several times over the last few years to open farmers' markets in other locations and it didn't work and I know why because this is the centre and people need to get this through their heads,” said Miller.

Kelowna Farmers' and Crafters' Market marketing consultant Mark Pigott says the board made a decision that was 'absolutely necessary' even if not everyone agrees.

“There are about 200 odd vendors, so those who do not want to leave do not necessarily represent the opinion of all the vendors,” said Pigott. “They certainty aren't necessarily the majority, they are just a group of individuals who are voicing an opinion.”

In their decision the Kelowna Farmers' and Crafters' Market stated that they needed to find a home for the market that is more stable, stating the mall parking lot is not a permanent position.

“The President, Wolf Wesle, is on the public record and has made it very clear that he has been told by Orchard Park that they cannot guarantee much more beyond a year,” said Pigott.

Something Miller says is not the truth, saying the mall had not implied to him they will have to leave.

“People are not being told the truth, I just don't understand. Orchard Park has not told us we will have to go,” said Miller.

However, Orchard Park General Manager Donna Markin says the Kelowna Farmers' and Crafters' Market is correct and the location is never guaranteed for longer than the current year and year contract.

“You know we love them, we love the use, we've enjoyed a great long relationship with them, but the only thing we can commit to is a relationship that is renewable for each season, April – October,” explained Markin.

She says that the mall could at any time have a new use for the empty parking lot which would prevent the market from being allowed back next season.

“There could be any number of reasons. We could build a whole new development on that lot, quite frankly that is what that lot is for. As a landlord and a retailer our business is permanent retail, that is what our core business is.”

At the end of the day regardless of the board's decision, Miller says he is not going anywhere.

“There will always be a farmers' market in the centre of the city here, period, I promise that to everybody."

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