There has been a lot of talk about the European style market that many in the Richardson Heights neighborhood would like to see come to the Heights shopping center. This is a proposal by the Four Seasons Market, which has a Saturday location on Campbell Road and another in Frisco. The proposal is for a market on Sundays, late morning to early afternoon, at the Heights shopping center.
More than 20 letters of support were written to the Richardson City Council, but instead of granting a special permit for the Heights market, they tabled it until a city-wide ordinance can be created to regulate open-air markets in the city. This may not come up into October, and then it could be too late for the market to open this year. This decision may have been guided by misinformation received by the Council.
The decision by the Council was contrary to the community’s wishes for an open-air market, whether you want to call it a farmer’s market or a European style market. Out of the 150 respondents in a 2013 survey of the Richardson Heights neighborhood, a farmer’s market was the top preferred new businesses they wanted to come to the Heights shopping center. This is a pretty huge show of support
The new city ordinance is being created without public input, unless you want to count negative input which has described the market as a dirty flea market that would draw rats and trash-out the shopping center.
Since a picture can speak a thousand words, this past Saturday, Aug. 30, we went to the Four Seasons Market location on Campbell Road with a camera and a notebook.
First thing to note is that the Four Seasons market isn’t a farmer’s market. It’s an open-air European style market book ended by two produce stands. In between the produce stands there are local cottage businesses – some making their products with the help of commercial kitchens and almost all with some kind of an online Web store presence – selling goods they’ve created by hand, grown, or produced. Goods like local honey, Texas olive oil, tamales, organic chips, hand-woven baskets from a women’s cooperative, handmade soaps, pasta, baked goods, dresses, plants, gourmet coffee, preserves, jewelry.
The variety of produce and locally made foods and items for sale is what makes this a European-style market.
Everything here is handmade or home grown – they are intimately connected to their products,” said Richardson Heights resident Mary Ann, who has a booth at the market selling her handmade jewelry. “A lot of these people are people who live here.”
Instead of a trash-strewn flea market, the Four Seasons Market is clean, orderly, and friendly. Take a look.
Vanessa Vyles and her dog Moose drive down from their Plano home to visit the market as frequently as they can. “I get olive oil, pasta, vegetables, bread – I get something every time I come,” she said. Vanessa also appreciated that the market was dog friendly.
The organic chips are sold by Betty Kinsey of the Richardson Northrich neighborhood. “We have organic corn chips, low-fat queso, salsa, fresh roasted coffee,” she said. “This market has been here for years. There are a lot of loyal followers.”
Karen Piggins and her son Edouard are setting up their shop, Body Harmony. They sell handmade soaps and jewelry, along with woven baskets made by women in a free-trade cooperative in Africa. They have been with the Four Seasons market for four years. “We work with over 400 women in Ghana. The money we pay them helps pay for schools, helps single mothers as their job to help sustain their lives in their villages.”
Grant Loring is making his first sale of the day to Patrick Krejs from University Park. Patrick said he was dropping off his son for a soccer game at UTD when he saw the market’s temporary sign along Campbell. “So I dropped him off and came back.” Patrick ended up with jars of strawberry-jalapeno jam that Grant’s wife Diana makes for their business, Designs by Diana. Grant said his wife, with the help of a commercial kitchen, makes 500-600 jars of preserves, jams and jellies a week, which they sell at area markets.
Justin St. Clair, “That Cactus Guy,” sells numerous varieties of cactus and also promotes his xeriscaping business at the market. “I sell plants that can make it in our climate,” he said. “It’s a good market. I get a lot of xeriscaping business, teaching them how to save water because we need that.”
Cassandra Adams of Stardust Soaps, makes her own skincare products and soaps. A licensed cosmetologist, she has been selling her hand made products at the Four Season markets since 2009. “It started as a hobby and then friends talked me into selling it,” Cassandra said. “I make it in small batches so it doesn’t sit around. Even though my customers can buy online, the majority tell me they’d rather come to the market.”
And that’s what makes the market such a community amenity. People want to come to the market to browse, chat with friends and vendors, get a little fresh air and some locally made and grown products.
Check out other vendors and customers at the market.