Emotions mixed as La Mesa Certified Farmers Market returns downtown

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LA MESA, Calif. – The signs are up and the streets are blocked. It’s another step toward normalcy in La Mesa.

The La Mesa Certified Farmers Market returned downtown Friday evening after nearly a year away. Taking place once a week along La Mesa Boulevard, the market offers a place for vendors to line the street to sell fresh produce, food and various other offerings to the community.

For much of the pandemic, the market set up shop in a parking lot on nearby Allison Avenue, where business dropped some 30%, according to Brian Beevers of Brian’s Farmers Markets.

Needless to say, he’s happy to be back, but not everyone is thrilled about the market’s return.

“There’s some tension there with some of the businesses,” Beevers said. “Our commitment still is to support them. Our commitment is to send people their way.

Some downtown business owners told FOX 5 the market blocks their storefronts and takes up needed parking spaces.

Laura Lothian, who sits on the La Mesa Village Association Board of Directors, said she fought to have the market downtown on Fridays “because it would be a really popular thing.” But she said a lot has changed over the years. She argues the market has become harmful to brick and mortar businesses downtown, particularly on one of their busiest nights of the week.

“What happens is the farmers market is set up in such a way that all of the pedestrians are there, not here,” Lothian said. “I know all these business who are now invisible and it hurts.”

Lothian said the market could be physically restructured to allow space for pedestrians to use the sidewalks.

“Now you’re here buying onions and then you come in here and say, ‘I’m gonna go buy a DVD,'” she said. “But right now, all the people are there.”

Still, all sides seem hopeful for a compromise.

Beevers said the market rolled out a new initiative Friday where people who buy something from a brick and mortar store can bring their receipt outdoors to his tent.

“We just give you a voucher for $5 and you can spend it with any vendor,” he said. “We’re taking a hit for it, but we really feel if we’re going to mend fences here, we need to start doing some things to help out.”

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