ROCKFORD (WIFR) – We’re about two weeks from Rockford’s City Market and we have a special sneak peek of what we can look forward to including a few new vendors this year.
Market Manager Cathy McDermott says there’s more than 60 vendors this year. That’s the largest number in market history. Last summer there were 54 businesses. McDermott says some of the new vendors on the block includes a gluten-free bakery, a popcorn parlor, and Broadway Florist. Last summer was a record breaking year as 75,000 people attended the market.
While the City Market itself is a success, many local businesses got their start in the streets of downtown. Now, some vendors are taking their businesses from the market to the masses.
Joe D’Astice says he can’t wait to start making his wood fire pizzas in his own permanent location on East State Street later this year.
He’s spent the last five summers as a vendor at Rockford’s City Market.
“I think the exposure is tremendous. You get to put your product out there for people on a weekly basis,” says D’Astice. “City Market is a great incubator to get people starting to pursue what they want to do.”
Woodfire Pizza isn’t the only success story. Canine Crunchery makes doggie treats and they just opened a location on Charles Street last fall, just a few months after their very first appearance at the Rockford City Market.
Owner Jane Femminella says being involved with the Market helped launch her business. Her dog treats are now sold at more than a dozen locations across the Stateline. She’s encouraging new and current vendors to look into opening a storefront year-round.
“Think about it. Talk to a good accountant, go down to EigerLabs, and do a small business plan and follow it.”
Despite having their own permanent locations, both D’Astice and Femminella say they’ll ever forget where they came from and will still have booths at this year’s City Market.
Other businesses like Bella Luna Bakery on Main Street also started at City Market. It seems vendors will have more space as the Market grounds will expand more north towards the Jefferson Underpass. City Market opens May 30.