The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market Co-op opened the doors to its new building on Saturday morning.
Erika Quiring, the co-op’s executive director, said that around 3,000 people visited. She said it’s an excellent amount for the weekend following the holidays on any other year and that it was a good sign for the businesses.
“We are thrilled to see so many lovely customers come to see us here,” she said.
The new building is at 2604 Koyl Ave., in the north of the city near the airport. It wasn’t the group’s first choice — they wanted to stay in Riversdale, where they had sold their products for the past 12 years.
The downtown location reflected, the group said, their central role in city life.
But city hall didn’t agree. In October, council voted not to renew the group’s lease, choosing to look for new tenants that can offer increased “activity” on more than three days a week.
Co-op members had previously told Global News they worried the lack of foot traffic on Koyl would hurt their businesses.
“I had a lot of anxiety about today. I was wondering if we were going to get support from our regulars and the new people and we got both.”
Satzewich said the new location was attracting people in nearby areas who could access the site via Circle Drive.
Linda Deitz said she had been a dedicated customer for four years.
“It’s much further away for us because I live on the east side of the city, but if I have to come here I will,” she told Global News.
The room the market was in contained roughly 30 vendors, about half of what the downtown location held. Quiring said it can fit 45 at most and that it’s just a temporary solution.
The larger unit next door, 2600 Koyl, is approximately the same size as the old downtown location. Quiring said the co-op will gut and redesign the space to suit the co-op’s needs. She said about half a million dollars of construction was planned.
She also said the City of Saskatoon could still help the small businesses.
“The bus service isn’t frequent to this neighbourhood and so we want to… lobby for improved services to this neighbourhood.”
She said she hoped the curiosity that brought in new customers transforms into something more permanent.
“We hope that people will understand that we’re in a little bit of a transition period here and that we’re going to build a super awesome venue.”