Downtown’s shining moment

Published 7:29 am Friday, May 15, 2009

Downtown Franklin, a happening place this spring, is about to get even busier.

The long-awaited opening of the Farmers’ Market in its new digs on Main Street is scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday, with a formal ribbon cutting at 9 a.m.

The market’s relocation from a parking lot on Armory Drive has been a labor of love and patience for the Downtown Franklin Association, which had to overcome taxpayer skepticism and outright opposition from existing vendors to get the new market off the ground.

Downtown Manager Dan Howe and his merchant volunteers were persistent, visiting other communities with successful markets and putting together a solid plan for the Franklin market’s operation. The organizers envision a mix of regular weekday operating hours and “prime” hours on Thursday evenings and Saturdays.

The hope is that the market, made possible by a generous grant from the Camp Foundations, will be the magnet that draws shoppers downtown who might not otherwise visit.

Once they are there, hopefully they’ll check out the nearby shops and restaurants that are so important to our community’s economy. Franklin has a good role model in neighboring Smithfield, whose farmers’ market is thriving as a Saturday destination for people throughout Hampton Roads.

A successful market would be a feather in the cap for the DFA, which works tirelessly to promote the city and its downtown merchants. The market should be the perfect complement to the highly successful We Be Jammin’ concert series at Barrett’s Landing and to special events such as the recent showing of “Deuce Coupe.” If consumers choose not to go downtown, they can’t say it’s because there’s nothing to do there.