Artisan salami, salsa, scarves and muffins on display Saturday afternoon gave people a preview — or taste — of what to expect at the Madison Public Market.
While the market isn’t expected to open until 2020, hundreds of people sampled food and talked with 20 of the market’s planned vendors while listening to live music in an area of Madison Area Technical College’s Downtown campus far smaller the approximately 40,000 square feet shoppers will have to browse for locally produced food, beverages and other goods at the completed Madison Public Market.
Saturday’s “Taste of the Madison Public Market” was the third, and best attended, public market preview, said Mayra Medrano, president of the Madison Public Market Foundation Board.
“This really exceeded our expectations,” she said. “People are on board with the public market.”
When it opens, Medrano said she expects between 30 and 40 vendors in the market at the corner of East Washington Avenue and South First Street on the East Side.
On Saturday, hundreds got the chance to see 20 of the vendors talk about their products.
Madison resident Molly Williams was at the event with her husband, Ben, 3-year-old son Oliver and 1-year-old daughter Adah.
She said they enjoy public markets and have been to ones in Seattle, Detroit and Minneapolis. They came out to preview Madison’s because they’ve been hearing about it for a few years, Williams said.
“We were excited to see what it is going to be all about,” she said.
Ben Williams said they like public markets because they act as a “bridge between farms and consumers” and help area small businesses by “keeping things very local.”
The $15 million public market project will also include residential units, event space and retail space.
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The city of Madison is expected to pay for about half of the project, Medrano said. Grants and donations will help cover the rest.
While the Madison Pubic Market will be a place for visitors to buy sweets, soul food, cheese and other homemade products, it will also be a business incubator to help entrepreneurs get started in Madison, she said.
“Our goal for those businesses would be to have brick-and-mortar stores,” Medrano said. “We want people to know that Madison can be a thriving business community.”
For Jasmine Banks, who makes skin care products for her business “Perfect Imperfections,” the preview event was a success.
“The traffic here was phenomenal today,” she said. “They’re keeping the momentum going.”
Banks said she started making homemade oils, lip balm and soaps two years ago and was pushed by friends to make it a business. She said the Madison Public Market is guiding her through a program to help her and other vendors turn their ideas into successful businesses for the market.
Another vendor at Saturday’s event, Yakub Kazi, was selling jewelry, scarves and garments designed and made by him and his wife, Nausheen Qureishi.
He said they plan to continue selling those goods when the public market opens and also will open a charcoal chicken restaurant selling Turkish, Indian and Mediterranean dishes.
Kazi said the opening of the Madison Public Market will give him and his wife, who both work other jobs, a chance to run their small businesses full time.
He said the attendees on Saturday gave good feedback on potential additions to their offerings, such as adding earrings with feathers.
Banks, who said she was born and raised in the East Side area where the market will be, said it will be a “space for all people”
“It’s not going to be like any space I’ve seen in Madison,” she said.