A Wrinkle Between Apple Tree and Farmers Market Over a Parking Lot

by on September 30, 2019 · 20 comments

in Ocean Beach

The Apple Tree parking lot on a recent Wednesday Farmers Market. These vendors pay their fees directly to Apple Tree and not the Farmers Market.

There’s been a wrinkle in the normal running of Ocean Beach’s Farmers Market held every Wednesday on Newport Avenue. One of the parking lots the Farmers Market utilized was withdrawn from the event. The owner of OB’s renown Apple Tree market was allowing the folks who operate the street market to use half of his parking lot for their vendors. They were renting the space for $100 a week.

But back in May of this year, Apple Tree requested the OB Mainstreet Association, which manages Farmers Market, to withdraw vendors from the concrete space normally used by Apple Tree for their parking lot. And now, Saad Hirmez, the owner of Apple Tree, is running his own mini-Farmers Market on the lot. However, he’s doing it without contributing to the monthly expenses demanded by the popular street market.

The OBMA spends some money on maintaining Farmers Market. There’s the marketing and PR costs; there’s the Special Event permit fees; there’s the security; there’s clean-up costs, and there’s insurance, licenses, trash pick-up, sidewalk cleaning, some fees to the market’s manager. This adds up. According to recent OBMA budgets, they spend around $8500 a month on Farmers Market. And it has paid off. It’s definitely quite the scene, especially in the summer.

But Hirmez says the “shoulder-to-shoulder” throngs at Farmers Market didn’t come into his business. He says the street market has cost him 20% to 30% of his business on Wednesdays. So, he took back the other half of his parking lot and has now opened up his own mini-Farmers Market where the vendors pay him – instead of paying the OBMA.

Hirmez told me this morning in a telephone interview, “It’s all economics. It’s nothing personal.” He has some of the same vendors, but they’re always changing and moving on – it’s the type of business vendors are in.

OBMA head Denny Knox confirmed for me that Apple Tree Market is a good, solid member of the business association. Hirmez contributes to the OBMA’s Safe and Clean Program. Hirmez says he would contribute more if other Newport businesses stepped up.

Knox said the money made from Farmers Market goes to help fund their Clean and Safe Program, office overhead, special events, the holiday decorations, the banners across Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and more.

So, we’re left in a stand-off. Hirmez wants to continue his vendor scene – as compensation for his loss of business on the Farmers Market Wednesdays. And the Farmers Market folks feel the loss of his support to their monthly expenses – which, again, are substantial.

There does seem to be an imbalance, a certain dis-connect, an on-the-surface unevenness. And we hope the parties can resolve this controversy in good faith and in good spirits.





{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

retired botanist September 30, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Ack, something’s up with the Rag format again- it keeps reverting to some weird, “stretched out” version. Don’t know about others, but for me its been happening for a couple weeks?


Vern September 30, 2019 at 12:29 pm



Frank Gormlie September 30, 2019 at 1:58 pm

It happens when a person who makes a comment also leaves us a naked link. I try to catch them but hey – let’s make it official, again, please don’t leave us a naked link – place it at the bottom of your comment or wrap it into text.


Geoff Page September 30, 2019 at 3:17 pm

Sounds sexy, but what is a “naked link.”


Peter from South O September 30, 2019 at 4:21 pm

My guess is an ala carte bratwurst . . . I found out just now, when it happened to me, that if you immediately click on the current date hyperlink at the bottom of the first story it loads the main page in its proper format.


Geoff Page September 30, 2019 at 4:24 pm

Good one. Assuming you meant a bratwurst with no onions, mustard, relish, cheese or any other toppings, hence “naked?”


Peter from South O October 1, 2019 at 4:05 am

By the card, man, by the card! Don’t get distracted by the a la carte and miss the horse link. Poor comedy takes EFFORT to appreciate ;-)


Geoff Page October 1, 2019 at 10:32 am

Now I’m completely lost.


Peter from South O October 1, 2019 at 11:38 am

a la carte phrase originated from ordering from the “card”. Carte before the horse?

Don’t get distracted by one part of a punch line by the other.

And I DID call it “poor comedy”


Frank Gormlie October 2, 2019 at 9:45 pm

I don’t know, but after reading this train, I’m ready for a bratwurst.


Peter from South O October 3, 2019 at 6:57 am

Don’t get me started on franks and links, Frank.

TLD September 30, 2019 at 4:56 pm

I wonder how many other business owners feel the same way. The market shuts down the street and could be a barrier to the brick and mortars customers: crowded, no parking, too crazy, whatever the reason it makes perfect sense to me that the farmers market could be viewed as competition that actually siphons off business instead of bringing in business. Plus, how many people just go to the farmers market when it’s open and do not visit the stores? I would think that it’s a lot.

It’s his lot. Really, if he wants to use it that way fine but it’s kind of a dick move if he’s doing it on the same day with the same type of vendors since the OBMA is the one footing the bill for everything and he is just reaping the benefits of proximity.

I know OBMA probably thinks it’s a draw for the businesses but it would be interesting to know for sure if it is increasing the business for the stores or if their sales drop on Wednesday’s.

Maybe Newport is not the best place for the market? Maybe a less commercial street would be better?


Geoff Page October 1, 2019 at 10:28 am

I completely agree with you TLD. One restaurant I like on Newport tells me their business sucks on that day and I’m sure others would say the same. The market could be moved over to Santa Monica easily. Between Cable and Bacon there are no businesses that depend on foot traffic like restaurants. CVS takes up half the block and it could be accessed from Newport and Cable. The other few businesses from CVS toward the beach don’t seem to depend on regular traffic. The north side of the road is residential, that would have to be solved but there is an alley behind all of that.


Sam October 1, 2019 at 12:26 pm

I agree with TLD 100%. Maybe the market should be moved down to Abbot street? Better yet the parking lot next to the lifeguard tower where there are bathroom facilities.


Christo K September 30, 2019 at 8:04 pm

While I am a longtime non-fan of Apple Tree, I can’t fault them for doing this.

If any business on Newport gets considerable direct competition from Farmers Market- it’s Apple Tree. Add to that (with the exception of Starbucks) not seeing many other business on Newport donating their parking lot to the OBMA.


Eric September 30, 2019 at 8:21 pm

Expand the market one more block down to the beach. It’s so crowded you can’t even walk parts of it.


ZZ September 30, 2019 at 10:45 pm

That is an excellent idea.


Shelly September 30, 2019 at 9:06 pm

How much of the $62 per vendor fee goes to OBMA?

At 100+ vendors = $6,200
4 weeks per month = $24,800

You mention OBMA budget includes $8,500 per month to organize the weekly market.

Where does the $ go?


Jennifer Mcmillian October 1, 2019 at 12:23 pm

Yes we do generate a substantial profit at the farmer’s market, sad to say the way we have been operating is revenue goes in the front right pocket and expenses come out of the front right pocket, any money left over goes into the front left pocket, money from the front left pocket is sprinkled around, we don’t work for free, and yes we are well compensated and i have no shame for my $75,000 salary.


Michael October 2, 2019 at 12:26 pm

You should stop keeping the money in your pockets and consider opening a checking account ;)

Is there an operating statement that’s public? It would be nice to actually see where all the money goes.

There’s obviously a lot of work that goes on to support the farmer’s market so I’m not questioning that.


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