A Temporary Move for Local Farmers Market

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By Alexandra Garretón

The Thursday Mission Community Market — held for three years on the once quiet street of Bartlett — has been temporarily driven out by construction. Starting this Thursday it will move around the corner to the more heavily trafficked 22nd between Bartlett and Mission streets.

Cranes, trucks and other equipment — involved in turning the empty space between Bartlett and Mission streets into an eight-story building — instigated the move, said Rosi Bustamante, the market’s executive director.

Some merchants on 22nd Street have complained that the coveted parking spaces on their street will disappear for the market on Thursdays between 2 and 9:30 p.m.  That gripe, however, came with a so-what-else-is-new shrug. “There’s no parking anywhere in the city — so what’s a Thursday afternoon,” said Carlos Xiu at Teresita’s Beauty Salon.

Bustamante hopes the new location will bring in more longer-term residents who shop on Mission Street.

Hasel Vasquez, who runs the perfume stand in Anita’s Beauty Salon on 22nd echoed the overall sentiment: “Not only will it help the market — it will help us,” she said, referring to the new foot traffic.

Vasquez said the market’s location on Bartlett is “too tucked away” and the move closer to Mission Street will give Latinos “better access.”

That is Bustamante’s intention and a $5,000 check from Bi-Rite helps supplement market shopping for those who find the stalls filled with organic produce too expensive. The donation doubles the worth of up to $10 of food stamps — restarting an earlier matching program that ran out of funds.

“The holidays is such a hard time for families,” said Shakira Simley, Bi-Rite’s community coordinator. “This way the neighborhood’s neediest neighbors will be able to stretch their food dollars farther.”

The market’s troubles began this summer when demolition began on the Giant Value building. Parked trucks and construction pallets often meant stalls had to move locations — affecting profits. Increasingly, Bustamante said, the construction site became a favorite place to dump garbage, making it difficult to keep it clean.

Workers are also removing toxic materials from New Mission Theater next to the site. Asbestos — mentioned in the San Francisco Planning Department’s environmental study of the construction last December — is probably what they’re getting rid of, although no one from the department could be reached for comment.

Bustamante is looking forward to the move and is encouraged by reactions like the one she got from the owner of Kosa Bella — who is planning to put clothing racks outside on Thursdays to attract potential shoppers who come for the market.

Xiu isn’t convinced the market will boost business but he said, “It’ll be nice to see more people walking around.”

Closed on Thanksgiving, Mission Community Market only has four more Thursday events before a four to five week closure after December 19th. Winter is too cold for both patrons and vendors to be outside, Bustamante said.

When they resume in late January, it is likely the market will still be on 22nd Street because, “You know how these construction deadlines go,” Bustamante said.

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