Shops split on market expansion
Those opposed want Farmers’ Market to grow, but elsewhere

By DAVE RANK - Daily News

April 11, 2014

WEST BEND - The 15 businesses affected by the 200-foot expansion of the Downtown West Bend Association’s Farmers’ Market on North Main Street appear evenly split whether the expansion would be good for them or not.

All of the businesses in the expansion area said they liked the Farmers’ Market and wanted to see it succeed. However not all want the market in front of their shops.

On Thursday night, the Common Council will reexamine its March 3 vote to allow the market to expand another half-block south on North Main Street, from Old Settlers Park to the circle drive at the West Bend Theater.

Last month, the eight aldermen split 4-4 to allow the market extension. Mayor Kraig Sadownikow cast the deciding vote to allow it.

Four of the affected businesses are excited to have the market extended south, four are equally dismayed by the idea. Three have a neutral attitude on the expansion while another three told the Daily News they did not wish to comment.

“Nobody has ever said we don’t want to expand the market. We want to see the Farmers’ Market expand,” said Mike Husar, owner of Husar’s House of Fine Diamonds, one of five businesses that filed a legal petition to get the city to reconsider its approval of the market’s expansion.

He said extending the market farther south on North Main Street is not the best option.

“There’s an issue with parking as it is,” Husar said. The expansion would remove another 40 parking spaces each Saturday morning, he added.

Extending the market south on North Sixth Avenue would be a better option that would not burden shops on North Main Street.

Last week, attorney John DeStefanis, DeStefanis Law Office, Mequon, filed a petition in Washington County Circuit Court for plaintiffs HTG Design Jewelers, The Exclusive Co. of West Bend, West Bend Coin & Collectibles, Husars House of Fine Diamonds and Diffusion Hair Design, requiring the council to reconsider its vote.
Thursday’s Common Council meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall, 1115 S. Main St.

“For me it’s all about parking,” Diffusion Hair Design owner Kristin Held said. “We obviously need more spaces. We have the same issue Thursdays in the summer with Music on Main.”

“The bigger, the better,” Sal’s Pizza manager Matt Wiedmeyer said of the market expansion. “I think it’s a great idea. It’ll bring more people downtown.”

Pete Puskas, owner of West Bend Coin and Collectibles, sees it the other way. The Farmers’ Market eats up the already limited parking spaces downtown, which interferes with access to his business.

“It already hurts my business, now it will really hurt my business,” he said of the expansion. “It’ll block my business. A lot of my customers don’t like it.”

“I’m not opposed to it. It’s probably a net neutral for me,” Tonia Emrich said. She is the owner of To Your Health.

The market does eliminate parking for her customers Saturday mornings when she’d prefer to hold her classes, Emrich said. “I don’t do training in the morning. I have no place for anyone to park. But it does bring in people to my shop.”

Jim Gugg owner of HTG Design Jewelers said he’s in favor of the market expanding, but felt the way the location for the expansion was chosen was poorly done. “I’d rather it was on (North) Sixth,” he said.

“We’re hoping that the Common Council will re-affirm their decision,” Downtown West Bend Association Event Manager Kellie Boone said.

The expansion would add space for 33 new vendors, Boone said, and she already has contracts with vendors that will take up a third of the additional space.

Those vendors will sell eggs, bakery, spices and teas, marinades and rubs, food mixes, and fresh fish, the latter probably starting sometime in June, Boone said.

The expansion is not intended to bring in more vendors offering products already available, but to diversify what is offered. “Our intent is to make it the best market it can be,” she said.

Boone said she has postponed talks with more vendors until after Thursday’s council meeting.

One vendor she wanted to add to the market, a mustard retailer, could not wait any longer and committed to another farmers’ market instead, Boone said.

Kim Riley, owner of Ooh La La ..., a clothing and accessories shop, said she already has added one to her staff in anticipation of the Farmers’ Market and is looking for another. “I figure it’s up to me to figure out how to get those captive customers into my store,” she said.

“We absolutely support the market expanding,” West Bend Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Craig Farrell said. “It’s one of the best in the state. I really believe it benefits the community as a whole.”

“I love the market. I’m all for it, always have been,” Betty Jo Kiefert said. She owns Settlers Park Market. “My sales quadruple on Saturdays because of it. I don’t see it as a disadvantage at all.” “I like the Farmers’ Market, don’t get me wrong,” Puskas said. “I wish they’d put it over on Veterans (Avenue).”