23,000-sq.-ft. farmers market announced for New Horizon Mall

A new farmers market has been announced as a second anchor tenant at the New Horizon Mall just north of Calgary.

Prairie Horizon Fresh Market expect to open this summer

Ken and Tracy Aylesworth are behind the new Prairie Horizon Fresh Market that will open this summer off the QE2 Highway just north of Calgary. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

A new farmers market has been announced as a second anchor tenant at the multi-cultural New Horizon Mall just north of Calgary.

Prairie Horizon Fresh Market is the latest announcement adding a western touch to the largely Asian-themed mall, which has been slow to attract businesses and customers to its 500 new storefronts since opening last spring.

Only 74 stores have opened to date. But things are slowly improving.

It's hoped the 23,000-square-foot farmers market will bring lots of new customers to the mall. It will employ around 150 people.

The mall features hundreds of small retail units that were sold like condos, rather than being leased to businesses and entrepreneurs. 

Owners of the new market space, Ken and Tracy Aylesworth, are no strangers to the farmers market business. The couple owned the Symons Valley Ranch Farmers Market that was destroyed in a fire in 2017 and ran the Avenida Food Hall & Fresh Market in the south of the city.

New Horizon Mall is situated next to CrossIron Mills off Highway 2 just north of Calgary. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Ken was also general manager of the Calgary Farmers Market before it relocated to its new location off Blackfoot Trail.

"We've been involved in the industry for a number of years but this is a phenomenal opportunity," said Ken Aylesworth.

Aylesworth says the indoor, year-round market will have a prairie town feel and will include fresh produce from local suppliers.

Vendors will range from fruit and veg to ethnic specialties including Mexican, Asian and Indian cuisine, alongside bakeries and everything from a coffee store to pies and ramen noodles.

"It's a really interesting opportunity for our traditional vendors to start mixing with the really rich culture in this part of the city," said Tracy Aylesworth.

General manager of New Horizon Mall, Scott Smith, hopes a farmers market will bring people in numbers to the mall, which has had a slow start to life since opening in May 2018. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

"There's an opportunity for this mix of western cultures and cultures from around the world that will come to visit this mall," she said.

Two weeks ago, the mall announced a Chinese department store, Best Shop, as its first major anchor tenant. The 15,000-sq.-ft. store should be open by June.

The mall's general manager, Scott Smith, says more people visiting the mall will hopefully speed up progress.

"It's a food market that we haven't seen in north Calgary for a couple of years. So we're excited and it's going to drive a lot of traffic," said Smith.

"These kinds of announcements help build momentum and excitement, and we're going to start to see a lot more visitors to the mall," Smith said.

Prairie Horizon Fresh Market is expected to open later this summer.