Many of the newer and wealthier residents to Northeast LA have a penchant for complaining about how they wish their new neighborhood was more like the old one they left, and that usually means being able to buy some bullshit item or other, usually a particular brand of coffee or some needless service they claim they can’t live without. (Why they escape the suburbs only to try and replicate those same trappings I’ll never understand.) One non-asinine idea they did get excited for was a Farmers Market: they talked and talked about how great that would be and how they (and their friends) would jump at the idea of supporting one in Highland Park. Eventually, someone did the work to make it happen, and now NELA has its own Old LA Farmers Market. It started out as a fine market, with plenty of booths full of good looking fruits and veggies, and lots of people milling around. But lately, it seems the realities of the market economy have started to make a dent in Highland Park’s perceptions of what type of businesses it can really sustain.
Despite all that fluffy talk of support, the shoppers for the weekly Tuesday market have dwindled, and understandably, many of the vendors have also stopped showing up. Even though the market organizers actually do a good job of getting the word out about their event, you can see from the pics that its looking quite barren, and these were taken at what should have been a peak market time. Not many customers or produce merchants. Mind you, this is in the same community that wanted a Whole Foods but instead got a Superior Super Warehouse, which appears to be doing well despite a similar Food4Less just over the hill. Can Highland Park support upscale establishments or even the slightly more expensive food of a Farmers Market? Despite all the recent gentrification, the answer is most likely no. The many self delusions about the “up and coming” neighborhood can’t erase the fact that Highland Park is still a mostly working class part of town, and poor people usually don’t have much extra money to spend. As to why those with money don’t show up, I’d really like to know.
I hope the Farmers Market gets back to top form and continues to provide a wide range of produce. But if it does fail, it’ll not be the first enterprise abandoned by that fickle crowd of monied shoppers.