The Wednesday Market at the Chatham Sales Arena east of Chatham is set to expand its hours, and its days of operation.
Bill Myre, general manager of the Wednesday Market, said hours will go from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and six days a week (closed Sundays), starting in July.
“The primary plan is to make it Wednesday to Wednesday Market, save and except for Sundays,” he said. “We’ll be operating by the end of July for six days a week.”
Myre said there would also be plenty of improvements at the market, starting with improved curb appeal. The front of the building will be improved, and the entire exterior will be painted.
The parking lot will also receive a new gravel coating, and it will be pressed. Lighting will also be put in for the parking lot, Myre said.
There are changes already underway inside too.
“What’s taking place right now is the reorganization of vendors inside the building. Some of them, or their particular products, didn’t blend with what the Wednesday Market is going to be about,” he said. “People call it ‘The Chatham Sales Arena,’ a flea market, and a farmers’ market. It’s none of those. It’s a Wednesday market – it will be a local market.”
Inside that local market will be a new look. Expect to see an expanded food section, all in one area, despite the fact there will be different vendors. There will also be a small hardware store, complete with a selection of lumber, as well as a feed and seed component, and farm supplies.
“We want to cater to the farmer and we want to cater to the homeowner who needs access to farm supplies during the week,” Myre said. “Our prices will be competitive with some of the mainstream stores.”
But the food section will see big changes as well.
“A big plan is to expand the food component and offer, milk, cheese, ice cream and all the essentials,” Myre said. “We’ll have produce, baked goods, an expanded meats selection, dried goods, canned product and pasta. It will be the neighbourhood groceteria, catering to the needs and wants of the people who live in the area and support the market.”
All the food products will be down the east wall of the building, Myre said.
And while there will be different food vendors, there will be one place to check out and pay.
“The vendors will have a new method of operating. They’ll be seamlessly incorporated into the floor plan,” he explained. “But everything goes through two registers at the entry point. The vendors will provide the product to the consumer. Each vendor will have a key code, and the code on each item is entered at checkout. The vendors will receive those credits at the end of the day.”
Myre said the one-stop payment method is designed to streamline the process for the customers. Rather than paying three or four vendors as a customer shops in the grocery section, he or she will pay just once.
About seven vendors that had been part of the Wednesday Market are no longer there. Myre said there would be about 11 new ones coming in, including arts-and-crafts-style vendors that “provide an interesting place to be.”
Myre expects the later hours to be of particular interest to market users. The current 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours make it difficult for people to visit if they are working on a Wednesday.
“There will be no reason to rush anymore (trying to get to the Wednesday Market before it closes). The hours will be extended,” he said. “What we want to do is to provide what the customer wants as opposed to what we want. The customer has to come here and be able to comfortably shop. We want to make it a pleasurable experience.”
Myre said the Wednesday Market has been in need of upgrades for some time. The changes are part of a two-year improvement and expansion program.
As the upgrades are done, he said the market would remain open.
“We’ll remain open through the construction,” he said. “The hours and days won’t expand until sometime in July.”