Los Alamos County Discovery Action Team Seeks Public Input On ‘Little Shops Marketplace’ Concept

An example of what the Little Shops Marketplace could be, if it becomes a reality. Courtesy image
 
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
kirsten@ladailypost.com
 
When Discovery Action Team members were tasked with generating ideas on how to make Los Alamos a good place to visit and live, it got team member Diana Martinez’s mind flying.
 
She suggested the Discovery Action Team pursue Little Shops Marketplace, a connected gathering place for small-business startups, hobbyists and food vendors to sell products and services under one roof with flexible options for renting small-enclosed spaces, stalls, booths or tables. Martinez said the idea is to not only give the public a place to congregate and socialize but also to offer small business owners an affordable space to rent.
 
“I always thought that there would be more small businesses and boutiques here if the rent wasn’t so high,” Martinez said.
 
The idea sprung from several sources. Martinez said she remembered trips with her family and being introduced to the DeSoto Marketplace in Phoenix, Ariz. The marketplace, Martinez said, was a remodeled car garage. Different food vendors located in different corners shared the space, similar to vendor booths at an arts and crafts fair or farmers’ market, and participants could enjoy different dining areas as well as a bar and TV.
 
“It was just a fun place to congregate … and that stuck in my mind,” Martinez said.
 
She added the world-famous Seattle Marketplace also inspired her. Martinez was further inspired by the El Centro mini mall of her youth, which is today exclusive galleries in Santa Fe.
 
Martinez said her children used to tell her that Los Alamos needed a mall.
 
The Discovery Action Team supported the idea and decided to gage the community’s interest in the Little Shops Marketplace. Jim Glover and Marianne Tenenbaum of The Idea Group of Santa Fe, which leads the Discovery Action Team, proposed doing a survey to see if local vendors would be interested in participating in the marketplace.
 
Martinez said the survey was released at the end of May. There is no deadline for responding to the survey, and entrepreneurs interested in taking the survey can access it here.
 
The hope, Glover said, is to solicit as much input as possible. He emphasized the survey is mostly for business owners.
 
“It’s really a survey for people that might be interested in selling in the market,” Glover said.
 
So far, Glover said about 30 to 32 responses have be submitted and they have mostly shown an interest in the marketplace. He added he feels the idea is worth investigating.
 
“I think there is a lot of talent in Los Alamos … and this idea of small shops allows them to focus on making whatever their item is rather than marketing,” Glover said.
 
The problem many new entrepreneurs face is having to juggle creating their products and marketing their business, he said.
 
Another advantage is the marketplace could offer business owners commraderie and support, Martinez said.
 
“I think it would create a synergy with other people,” Martinez said, adding, store owners could work together, manning each other’s spaces. “I think if we could keep it affordable for them it would be a great benefit to our town.”
 
The Discovery Action Team will discuss the marketplace at its next meeting at 11 a.m., July 18 in Council Chambers inside the Municipal Building at 1000 Central Ave.
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