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Popular SLO farmers' market asked to move and downsize

Posted at 4:40 PM, Sep 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-13 21:22:45-04

Some local vendors and customers at a San Luis Obispo farmer’s market expressed concern after noticing some changes this past weekend.

The Saturday morning farmer’s market has been pushed to the back end of a parking lot at the SLO Promenade and organizers say that available space has nearly been cut in half.

The popular market was suddenly asked to relocate and downsize earlier this month.

“I was horrified. It’s been here for 72 years, we all love it,” said Gretchen Gonyer, owner of The Crushed Grape. “People come by the droves every Saturday and for them to shrink in half with just two days’ notice was just not fair.”

Organizers confirmed they were given a few days’ notice to move.

“They told us where we could go, it happened very quickly,” said Michael Cirone, owner of Cirone Farms.

The Saturday morning market used to fill the Madonna Plaza parking lot with enough space for 50 growers and another dozen food vendors.

The market has now been pushed into a smaller area at the back end of the lot.

Farmers say the new location is workable but presents some challenges.

“It looks at least 50 percent smaller. Interestingly enough, we were able to get people into that space, but we had to get their tables close and there were some congestion issues,” said Cirone.

The SLO Promenade is home to many businesses including REI, Sprouts, Cost Plus World Market, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Hobby Lobby.

Organizers say the relocation came at the request of a new tenant in the shopping center.

“They were asked by one of the tenants to move us and because those people lease and were guaranteed x-amount of parking spots, the management had to go along with the request,” explained Cirone.

The owner of The Crushed Grape has started a petition drive to show support for the Saturday morning market.

“It’s our gem, it’s what we love, it’s what we have. The center doesn’t really do a lot of other community things,” said Gonyer. “Let’s just go back to the way it was because it was causing no problems.”

Farmers and businesses, meanwhile, hope to work with the plaza to come up with a solution that everyone can work with.

“The move is not so bad it’s just, we’re not getting enough in this spot, it’s just really tight,” said Cirone.

The Saturday market has been operating since 1978 and community members hope it thrives for years to come.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the farmers' market is located in the Madonna Plaza Shopping Center parking lot.