Thursday, July 12, 2001

Farmers markets
grow in popularity

Going to the mall to pick up an ear of fresh Kahuku corn may be a foreign concept, but it was true enough at Windward Mall's "Kahuku Farmers Market" Saturday.

While city-sponsored "People's Open Markets" have been around since 1968, it may become downright trendy to host them in conjunction with established commercial operations.

Windward Mall Marketing Director Sandi Oguma said the mall has been "wanting to do a take-off on Seattle's 'Pike's Market' for years," and last weekend hosted a group of farmers, local artisans and crafters in the space formerly occupied by The Body Shop. The farmer connection came via Kahuku Hospital, which hosts a roadside market the third Saturday of each month.

Pike's Market is a top Seattle attraction for purchases of fish, produce and other products.

The mall market will crop up again once a month, Oguma said. "I think once this catches on ... it will go gangbusters."

That could happen, considering the success of similar farmers markets in town.

For six years, the Piikoi Open Market has drawn shoppers to the Ala Moana area early Saturday mornings, first on the site of what is now Hawaiki Tower, then moving to Waimanu Street to make way for the building. It runs from 6 a.m. to noon, and manager Art Frechette said there are plenty of customers bright and early, "That's when it's busiest."

Frechette, a florist by trade with Nita's Flower Market on Waiakamilo Road, also manages the 3-year-old Manoa Marketplace Open Market and the new Aloha Tower Marketplace Open Market. He pays rent, and vendors pay him to peddle produce, plants, flowers, kettle- cooked popcorn and handcrafted items. "I think the more variety you have the more interesting draw it is," he said.

There was initially concern by the Manoa Safeway over the produce sales, Frechette said, "but they've seen over time, the success of the market in drawing people to Manoa even from outside Manoa Valley itself. I think, and I have no figures to back this up, their business overall probably increased."

The markets are from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Manoa Marketplace on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and starting July 20 on Fridays at the Aloha Tower Marketplace.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached

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