Kitchener-Waterloo

Kitchener Market mulls 2nd day as visitor increase continues

The Kitchener Market has seen an increase of market visitors by 15 per cent since 2012 and the numbers are so good, a second day of vendors with local food and product could be added.

'Huge increase in traffic' at market since 2008, manager Kim Feere says

The Kitchener Market has seen a 15 per cent increase in visitors to the Saturday market since 2012. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

As downtown Kitchener has changed and grown thanks to revitalization, so too has the Kitchener Market. 

The numbers are so good, they're considering adding a second market day when Ontario produce is in season from May to October.

"We've seen a huge increase in traffic since the revitalization of downtown," Kim Feere, manager of the Kitchener Market, told CBC KW's The Morning Edition host Craig Norris Wednesday.

Since 2012, the market has seen Saturday market visitors increase by 15 per cent while the number of events such as cooking classes, rentals and events has jumped by 205 per cent.

Lunchtime visits to the International Food Court are up 310 per cent since 2011, with an average of 422 visitors per day, said a report this week to the city's planning and strategic initiatives committee.

LRT station a 'game changer'

The growth is expected to continue, especially when the LRT is up and running and stops nearby. 

"That's a huge game changer with regards to … reaching a larger market, and so we feel like we're positioned for success," Feere said.

The staff report, which outlined a strategic plan for the market, said people appreciate more than just the food that is available at the market – they also value a sense of community. Online survey respondents said they liked seeing familiar faces, vendors who know patrons by name, classes and other events.

"In this way, the market is more than just a building," the report said. "It's a community that contributes to the vibrant downtown core, and a healthy Kitchener."

2nd day interest

The market used to have a second day, from 2004 to 2007. But it was discontinued due to lack of interest.

Kitchener's downtown revitalization started in 2008, so Feere said now might be the time to consider a second day.

"60 per cent from our online survey said they would be interested in going to the Kitchener Market more often if there was a second market day offered [during] the seasonal months," Ferre said.

But the decision will be up to the vendors, Feere said. She now needs to talk to stakeholders about the idea, but she's received positive feedback.

"[Visitors] want locally grown product and ideally they'd like a farmer there because they enjoy the relationship with the vendor and the customer," she said. "I have seen enough interest in vendors to feel that we could definitely have a good vendor mix and have it well represented."

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