PARKERSBURG – The new location of the Downtown Farmers’ Marketplace received positive reviews from customers Thursday, even though there are plenty of open spaces to be filled in the coming weeks.
“I think it’s going to be amazing,” Parkersburg resident Bonnie Crabtree said as she looked at the colorful flowers for sale inside the Point Park Marketplace building at 113 Ann St.
Thursday was the first day for the market under its new hours at the building, which was remodeled last year and has played host to Winter Market activities.
Last year, the market operated two days a week from May through September, with some Saturdays, at Bicentennial Park across from the Municipal Building.
At the new site, it is now scheduled to have its doors open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday year-round.
Those stopping by Thursday had no trouble observing the remodeled building with only three vendors set up inside and two outside.
“Within a month, the building should be full,” said Kim Gant, assistant to Mayor Bob Newell and the city’s liaison with the market.
Gant noted more flower vendors would soon be joining John Crihfield Farms from Roane County, who had already made a concrete-floored room in the building much more colorful with their offerings Thursday.
“As it grows, the flower vendors will probably move completely outside,” she said.
The tent from the Bicentennial Park location will also be set up at the new site for outdoor vendors.
In the other room, with laminate flooring, Breads and Beyond Bakery, a mother-daughter operation from Marietta, was selling cinnamon rolls, cookies, granola bars and more. Eventually they plan to bake items at the marketplace, said Marty Baumgartner, who owns the business with her mother, Jane King, and has been running it out of King’s house.
“We’ve been wanting to move into a shop for probably like 12 years- that’s when we opened,” Baumgartner said. “We were getting a little cramped.”
Diagonally across the room from them were gloves, hats, socks and shawls made by Tammie Marks of Heavenly Sunlight Alpaca Farm in Freeport. Marks said in addition to selling her wares, she’ll be demonstrating her spinning and weaving techniques and plans to offer classes in the summer.
“We love it, absolutely love it,” Marks said of the market’s new location. “It’s going to be a great place.”
Gant noted there will be an ice cream and Italian ice stand set up inside the market, and Chef Yancy Roush will have a presence as well, including grilling food on the back deck. A business selling West Virginia-made products and a winery are also on the way.
Additional vendors are scheduled to set up as produce becomes available. Some will be there each day the market is open, while others will come only on Saturdays.
A grand opening event is being held Saturday, when additional vendors will be in place. There will be crafts for children and free flowers for the first 100 mothers through the doors.
In the same building but separate from the market rooms, a bicycle and kayak rental business, Lapping the Couch, is planned to open by mid-June. Ripley resident Victoria Harris, who stopped by the market Thursday, said she’s looking forward to that.
“I will definitely come back and rent bikes with my grandchildren,” she said. “I can’t wait.”
Parkersburg resident John Wiseman, who owns the business with Kim Coram, said he hopes it will demonstrate that the growing network of bike trails in the area can be a means of economic development.
“There’s lots of trails, lots of good things happening in our community, and no one else seemed to want to jump on it,” Wiseman said.
Coram is a member of Parkersburg City Council, but Mayor Bob Newell said he saw no conflict of interest because leasing of spaces is handled by the Municipal Building Commission, not council. Wiseman said the opportunity to lease the space was available well before he and Coram stepped in.