Consolidation talks between the Lehigh Grower’s Market, located on Fairmount Street just off Route 309, and the Coopersburg Farmer’s Market, located on N. Main Street, are at a standstill. The two markets have been unable to agree on a location or a day of the week to hold the market.
For the past 15 years, the Lehigh market has been located on the north side of Living Memorial Park. Two years ago, Wendy Sinko, owner of Bee Natural in Coopersburg and a member of the Coopersburg Business Revitalization Program, decided to establish a farmer's market on N. Main Street in the parking lot of her store. "It was a natural extension of my business," said Sinko in a previous interview.
Representatives of both markets claim to have reached out to one another, and say they have received no recent response.
“We said, ‘let’s sit down and talk,' ” said Sinko when asked about the Lehigh market. Sinko claims that members of the Lehigh market are unwilling to meet. “We’re not going to chase them,” she said.
“There was talk of combining the two markets,” said a representative of Windy Springs Farm and member of the Lehigh Grower’s Market who wished to remain anonymous. “They should’ve come to us,” the representative said.
According to its website, Windy Springs is owned and operated by brothers Matt and Tom Mood.
By the March CBRP meeting, talks broke down over the issue of how the markets would combine. The Coopersburg market wanted the Lehigh market to switch its hours to Thursday. Windy Springs Farm sees no reason to switch to Thursdays, which it said in prior meetings is a less successful day for a market. “Why would we want to switch from our Saturday market which thrives?”
Sinko said that the Coopersburg market has decided not to pursue the Lehigh market for the time being, citing how far along in the year they were as well as the Lehigh market’s current low vendor participation. According to members of the Lehigh market who met at the Coopersburg Diner in early February, Lehigh market has two vendors. “They had lost most of their vendors and customers with the construction on 309,” Sinko said. “If they only have two vendors they’re going to really struggle.”
Representatives of the Lehigh market say that talk of their demise may be premature. “We have five new vendors we’re in talks with,” the representative from Windy Spring Farm said.
The representative also said that the CBRP gives preferential treatment to the Coopersburg market. The Coopersburg market is a member of the CBRP while the Lehigh market is not. “It’s hard. They don’t consider 309 part of their town,” the representative said. “We’ve been here 15 years and the town's not behind us. What about the market that’s been here?”
Mayor Tim Paashaus disagrees. “It’s my understanding that the two markets are trying to work it out amongst themselves,” the mayor said in a phone interview. “We want both markets to succeed. They help different areas of our town.”
The CBRP has a different goal, says Sinko. “[The CBRP is] trying to focus on Main Street.”
Still, the CBRP says it's an open organization. Sinko even said that the Lehigh market was invited to the last CBRP meeting and did not come.
In spite of the recent lack of communication, both markets say they are still in favor of working together. “Next year we can re-evaluate the situation,” said Sinko.
“We’d like to work together,” said the Lehigh market representative.
Behind these conciliatory words, however, exists the rhetoric of two rivals. “This town’s not big enough for two markets,” the Lehigh market representative said.