Attendance has been twice as high this year compared to years past at the Old Town Market in downtown Rock Hill – something its manager hopes is a good sign as it moves into a new, permanent home next season.
Chrys Tuttle, manager of the twice-weekly market which has been temporarily located this year in a parking lot on the corner of East White Street and Dave Lyle Boulevard, said attendance has been about 200 to 400 people every market this season – which ran from May 10 through Sept. 1.
“We’re still growing,” Tuttle said. “Because Old Town Market has been held outdoors during the summer months, attendance has been affected by the weather. Usually there are lower numbers of customers when it’s excessively hot, or when it’s rainy and by people being out of town for vacations.”
The market’s location has changed five times over recent years – from underneath the parking deck in downtown, to the Black Street parking lot, to the corner of Saluda and Main Street, to the Gettys Art Center and then to its most recent space off Dave Lyle Boulevard.
Tuttle said she’s made an effort to keep the market consistent – despite location changes – by having quality vendors, live entertainment and kids activities.
“And, it’s always been in downtown,” she said. “We have it located in downtown for a reason. We want the market to be a part of the revitalization of downtown Rock Hill.”
The market’s new home will be off Caldwell Street near the intersection of Main Street. Parking in the area will be adjusted so customers can enter the parking lot from East White Street – one block up from the market’s current location.
Leitner Construction was hired to transform the downtown lot and adjacent building into a space for the market and other city events. The city of Rock Hill awarded Leitner a $522,422 contract in July.
Bonds supported through a special downtown tax will pay for the construction project.
The new space will have covered walkways and parking designed for farmers to back trucks into to sell produce and fresh meats, said Susan Lyle, performance manager for Rock Hill’s Economic & Urban Development Department.
Sally Adams sells honey and beehive products from her Clover-based Mama Beehive Honey Farm at the Old Town Market.
She said she has concerns about the market moving again because the Dave Lyle Boulevard traffic has helped generate more customers.
Proposed development for the future market, Adams said, seems to be too small to house all the interested vendors.
On many Thursday nights in the summer market season about 35 vendors show up, she said.
The new development, Adams said, appears to only have space for about 16 vendors.
Tuttle said there will be room for about 16 vendors directly near the walkway of the new building, but other farmers and vendors could possibly set up in the parking lot or along the sidewalk.
The indoor space could be used on days with bad weather, she said, and would have plenty of room for everyone.
In many ways, Tuttle said, having high demand for space is “a good problem to have.”
Adams said Tuttle has been very in touch with the farmers and cares about their success – but that doesn’t make the new development a good idea.
In true entrepreneur style, Adams said everything’s worth trying once – including showing up to the market’s new home next year.
“I don’t know,” Adams said with a smile. “I’ll give it a go.”
Anna Douglas 803-320-4068