Before I share my thoughts on this I'll catch you up on exactly what happened.
Eric Paulson wrote a letter to Excelsior Mayor Mark Gaylord dated July 1st requesting that the Excelsior Farmer's Market be moved off of Water St. Here is that letter:
Paige Keifer, the community editor for the Excelsior/Shorewood Sun Sailor became aware of the letter and decided to poll 35 business and restaurant owners who are affected by the Water Street closure during the Excelsior Farmer's Market. She asked them if they would like the market to stay put or be moved.
You can read her article in full here: Victor's on Water Owner pushes to move Farmer's Market.
Of the 35 businesses polled, 20 want the market to stay where it is, 14 would like to see it moved and 1 was undecided.
The Sun Sailor article was shared on social media where Eric Paulson and Victor's on Water received harsh backlash and very little support. Here are a few of the over 50 comments to the article.
There were a few who did agree with moving the market to the Excelsior Commons, which is a park area down the street on the shores of Lake Minnetonka:
You can read all of the comments in full at the Excelsior, Minnesota Facebook page.
The day after the Sun Sailor article was posted online, Victor's on Water owner Eric Paulson wrote a response letter, which was shared on the Excelsior, Minnesota Facebook page. Here it is in full:
My decision to get involved in the Farmers Market issue is out of care for the city and all the parties involved. It is to find a solution that meets everyone’s needs. As a 40 year resident of Excelsior, I care for and have been involved in the betterment of this community.
The Farmers Market located on Water Street every Tuesday afternoon and early evening creates an unneeded conflict. While there are shop owners that benefit from its time and location, there are others whose businesses are negatively affected. I believe that the city and the Chamber of Commerce each have a responsibility to create a business environment that helps all businesses, not just some.
Victor’s is a huge proponent for local businesses and farmers. We source most of our menu from local purveyors. We support and enjoy having the farmers market in our town. That is not the issue. Being cognoscente of all local business is the point of my concern.
Can the Tuesday afternoon Farmers Market be moved to a location that adds value to all businesses on Water Street and at the same time free up parking, thereby creating more shoppers? In a new location, can the Farmers Market be more successful by having their parking closer to their stands thus preventing their customers from having to carry their purchases from the Market some two blocks or more to their car? Would people buy more if it was made easier? Is there a location that would continue to add foot traffic to the central business district providing new Tuesday opportunities for all?
For example, would something as simple as changing Tuesday’s hours from a 2:00pm start to starting at 8:00am and ending 12:00pm provide the Water Street merchants with the same, if not improved, buying power and not damage the lunch and early dinner business of the restaurants on Water Street? I believe there are other options that deserve to be explored.
One last issue is: Do we really need to put a flower stand directly in front of our local florist, do we need to locate the jewelry stand in front of the local Jewelry store, and, lastly, is it necessary to locate a food truck in front of a restaurant? People indicated to me that they were initially told there would be no direct competition with the local business. Have the rules changed?
There are people who agree with me and those who don’t, we all have a right to voice our opinion. Please feel free to contact Marketing to address any further comments or concerns. 612-306-4711, Shannon would be happy to discuss this with you further.
Let’s work together to find a solution that benefits everyone.
Eric H Paulson
President and CEO,
The response to his letter didn't get much better than the article the day before.
Though what Eric Paulson and Victor's on Water wants is not a popular idea, it is an idea they have the right to voice and even push for. Many of the comments on social media were outright mean and hateful. Nothing ever gets resolved when people are being nasty.
Several commenters said they would not be dining at Victor's on Water as a result of the actions the restaurant and its owner are taking to move the Excelsior Farmer's Market.
Personally, I don't want the Farmer's Market moved. I love having it on Water St. It's my hope that Eric Paulson, Victor's on Water and any other businesses that want to move the Excelsior Farmer's Market take a step back and look at the big picture.
Community building is not always convenient or profitable, though many businesses on Water Street see a spike in business during the Farmer's Market. Jake O'Connors Public House is across the street from Victor's on Water. Their outdoor seating is usually packed during the Excelsior Farmer's Market. They love having the Farmer's Market on Water St. Owner Dermot Cowley had this to say about it:
Jake O'Connors opens at 11am. Victor's on Water opens at 4pm. The Excelsior Farmer's Market goes from 2pm-6pm. The street is closed from 1pm-7pm for set up and break down. Both restaurants are on the same street, across the street from each other. Each restaurant is having a very different experience when it comes to the Farmer's Market.
When I go to the Farmer's Market I easily find a parking space within a block. While I'm at the market I also visit a few of the boutiques. I usually then sit outside at Coalition and enjoy a glass of wine, a snack and people watching before I go home. Tuesdays at the Farmer's Market is my main day for shopping in Excelsior.
Though I don't agree with the stance Eric Paulson and Victor's on Water is taking in regard to the Excelsior Farmer's Market, and I don't think the way they are going about it is smart in terms of building relationships in the community, I do support their right to voice their opinion and take action if they feel so strongly about it. Ultimately it is up to the Excelsior City Council to accept or deny a permit to close Water Street for any event, including the Farmer's Market.
Victor's on Water opened in November of 2014. Their food is amazing! They took meticulous care in renovating the space they are in and it shows. The name Victor's on Water pays homage to Victor Bacon who once owned the popular Bacon Drug visited by Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones during a concert in Excelsior many years ago.
This is a restaurant that I want to see succeed in Excelsior. We needed a fine dining place like Victor's, who also prides themselves on locally sourcing as much of their ingredients as possible. You don't get more local than right outside your front door.
The Excelsior Farmer's Market has been on Water St. for 3 years now. Victor's on Water now sits where Bacon Drug once was, the place many believe an exchange occurred between Mick Jagger and Excelsior's Mr. Jimmy, which inspired a hit song. My hope is that Eric Paulson and Victor's on Water take a step back and follow the words of Mick Jagger, possibly inspired at their very location. "You can't always get what you want." - Mick Jagger