OB Farmers Market Story Continued….Blondstone: “Just Don’t Hurt Us”

by on February 22, 2009 · 56 comments

in Economy, Ocean Beach

Editor: This is a repost that was originally published on February 5, 2009.

Last week we ran a report about flyers handed out on Newport Avenue that pointed the finger at the owners of Blondstone as being behind a letter writing campaign that could lead to closing down the OB Farmers’ Market, the Holiday Parade, and other events that include craft fairs. That report prompted numerous people to comment on this site (the blogospheric equivalent of letters to the editor). Shane Smith and Heidi Holman, the husband-wife team that owns the store, also contacted us, asking for an opportunity to express their point of view. Yesterday I sat down with Shane; this story is a result of that get-together.

Shane Smith is angry. It’s an anger that bubbles just below the surface, as opposed to the kind that makes the face red and the veins on the temples throb. Over the course of our conversation, his composed demeanor would start to slide…the anger would flash in his eyes for just a moment…and then he’d right himself. It’s the kind of anger that comes from frustration, and he certainly seems to have plenty of frustrations to talk about.

Nine years ago, Shane and Heidi opened Blondstone on Newport Avenue. The existence of the OB Farmers’ Market was one of the things that attracted him to the location. (They opened a second location in La Jolla two years later.) Heidi is, by all accounts, an extraordinarily talented jewelry designer. Beautifully designed pieces of silver jewelry, incorporating shells, beach glass, and semi-precious stones are displayed throughout the premises. At the back of the place she creates her works of art, twisting and setting, soldering and stamping the pieces that will eventually bear her mark.

The store is an island of serenity, located right smack in the middle of the block of OB’s main drag that, every Wednesday, erupts into the near-chaos that surrounds any bustling street market. And, yes, the pieces in the store sell for a great deal more than those displayed on the rag-tag collections that show up on the street each week.

The contention between Blondstone and the Farmers’ Market goes back four years, according to Shane, when the market was allowed to expand from about forty vendors to around one hundred. At that point, more non-farm vendors (crafts & prepared foods) were encouraged to come in, and the results-from Blondstone’s point of view-were very discouraging. Sales at the shop plummeted on market days. What galls him is that the decisions about the market are being made by the very organization (Main Street) that he feels should be advocating and defending his economic interests.

Asked about what specific actions he has taken with regard to the Farmers’ Market and other similar events, Shane pointed to two things: a request to the City Parks & Recreation Department to enforce existing regulations, and an inquiry he’d made last year about the efficacy of a craft fair that was held for three consecutive Saturdays prior to Christmas at Veteran Park (Newport & Abbott). He claims that he received a letter back from a member of the OB Town Council inviting him to take his business elsewhere. He also claims that attendees at a recent Council meeting were encouraging people to picket and boycott his business. Attempts to reason with Main Street and the Town Council on his part, he says, have been either ignored or distorted.

Shane told me that Blondstone is in no way opposed to any of the events and activities that occur in OB. “Just don’t hurt us”, he said. He went on to explain that all he’s seeking is for the Farmer’s Market to become more of a venue for locally produced food products. Many of the crafts booths, he says, are actually selling imported goods-as opposed to local arts & crafts-that could well be made in sweatshops overseas. And the conversation was peppered with suggestions that many of the activities that go on around the Farmers’ Market are in violation of assorted agency rules and regulations.

Historically there has been conflict within the business community and with the community at large about the direction and focus of activities along Newport Avenue. Some of us remember when “dirty hippies”, according to some former Town Council members, needed to be run out of Ocean Beach, lest they doom local businesses to failure. Now some of those hippies are movers and shakers in the community. This particular conflict might be a little different (or not); the frustration obvious in Shane Smith’s interview might also be indicative of a Main Street organization that’s insensitive or out of touch with what’s actually happening on “main street”.

In the next few days we’ll be visiting with the folks at OB Main Street to hear their side of the story. And we’ll let you know what we find out. Keep the comments coming!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Dog Beach Dude February 19, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Solid points Laci.

According to MSNBC this morning, jewelry sales in our country have plummeted, so maybe OB’s most toxic couple should simply cut their losses and send their unsold inventory to cash4gold.com. They ARE the embodiment of negative and underdeveloped energy. Thankfully that’s what, in the end, will be their downfall. If they’re doing as bad as they complain they are, it shouldn’t be long before they’re just another casualty.

They’ve completely worn out their welcome here. Publicity scam gone wrong or not, they need to leave. NO-body wants them here anymore, so seriously, why would anyone want to stay where they are completely loathed? Unless of course you’re some kind of nut job bully who gets his kicks running around Newport on Wednesdays taunting everyone and trying to make them feel uncomfortable.

I think it’s obvious to 99.8% of the people here that OB simply won’t support them any more. I thought that maybe P.B., M.B., I.B. North County or even Jamul might want their nasty ‘tudes… but I doubt it. Shane rhymes with Pain and those towns certainly don’t need any extra BS either.

Reply

avatar Sandy Ary February 19, 2009 at 7:29 pm

I Love Love Love the farmer’s market and I think agriculture, food and crafts of all kinds should be sold at the market in order to promote the crafts/trades of each individual. Face it, in an economy like this of course people are going to buy a less expensive item in comparison to a hand-crafted gem necklace! Keep the market alive!

Reply

avatar ghandi girl February 23, 2009 at 9:59 pm

I RESPECTFULLY ASK ALL OF YOU TO STEP OUTSIDE YOUR BOX AND CONSIDER FOR A MOMENT THAT THE OBMA IS AS CORRUPT AS WALL STREET HAS RECENTLY BEEN SHOWN TO BE. IS IT SO IMPOSSIBLE THAT THE ASSOCIATION YOU THINK IS THERE TO HELP YOU IS ACTUALLY THERE FOR THEIR OWN FINANCIAL GAIN????????? THINK ABOUT IT…WHAT DO THEY GET OUT OF INCLUDING MORE VENDORS(NOT ARTISANS) AT THE MARKET???

Reply

avatar Community Crops February 23, 2009 at 11:49 pm

As the operators of the OB Farmers’ Market since 2000, we are grateful to be associated with a farmers’ market that has the kind of community support indicated by many of the postings in the OB Rag. As we continue to respond to the “concerns” raised by Blondestone, I just want to respond to, and clarify, a few things.

1. It is true that the market has changed over the years yet our true soul and committment is still to the certified farmer. Depending upon the season, the market is represented by 25 to 40 farms. Certified farmers comprise 25% (winter) to 40% (spring and summer) of our vendor make-up.

2. We never recommend moving a farmers’ market, particularly one as well-established as OB. Location changes are very hard on farmers, and no market that I’m aware of has moved and regained its original level of success. Although, I appreciate the creativity and suggestion. We would love to expand the market to the next block…if people would support that idea!!

3. We work very hard to try and create balance in the representation of the vendors by providing opportunities for a variety of products to be introduced into the market. The market has grown significantly under our management, which we largely believe to be a positive indication of the success of the market. Our understanding has always been that any local OB business interested in having a booth at the OB market is welcome. This has always been our policy.

4. Based upon Blondestone’s “concerns” the OBMA created an artisan application and review committee and now requires some verification that items are handcrafted and significantly reduced the number of jewelers in the market. We will continue to follow the direction set forth by the OBMA and will try to address ALL concerns submitted to us.

5. I prepare all permit applications and work closely with all permitting authorities to obtain the necessary permits for the OB market. As one of the oldest markets in San Diego we were around before certain regulations were in place, and there were some areas where we were allowed to operate differently than new regulations may have dictated. However, we have always worked cooperatively with local officials and worked diligently to ensure that the market is being run properly and in accordance with local and state regulations.

We love this market and community and hope to be connected with it for many years to come. Thank you all for your support. We hope to see you Wednesday!

Reply

avatar OB Joe February 24, 2009 at 9:01 am

You know what, Ragsters? It would be great if Porter or someone did a summary of all the wonderful and not-so-wonderful ideas expressed in the comment string that followed his article. I’m really looking forward to some kind of follow-up here.

Reply

avatar Allie July 21, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Wow I am blown away by all this…I for one was a metal artist a few years back and was tought by the same teacher as Miss Heidi…inflated ego and prices for sure. I am now a craft vendor at the FM every Wed. where i sell my handmade bags and ragtag silk wrapped jewlery all made with my own 2 hands. I thank God for this market and how i have been accepted into this market so readily by all the other vendors… you see I lost my husband a year ago and am in the process of losing my home all while i am raising my 3 year old granddaughter alone…this market allows me to put food on our table every week…You see Mr and Mrs Smith..its about real people and suvival…I love OB…

Reply

Leave a Comment

Before clicking Submit, please complete this simple statement to help us weed out the bots... Thank you! *

Older Article:

Newer Article: