Summer marketplace gets zoning nod

Mark Ignatowski

Stoughton could be the home to a 12-week outdoor vendor marketplace this summer after the city’s Planning Commission forwarded zoning changes to the Common Council last week.

Mandt Marketplace would operate about twice per month starting in April and would give vendors of all types a place to sell their crafts, wares, artwork and farm goods in Mandt Park.

Sherry Johnson, who is coordinating the marketplace, told the Hub that the events will be a good way to bring customers and businesses from the around the area together.

“I thought it would be a  great thing to bring the community together,” Johnson said.

“It’s a way to promote our parks, our lake, our residents and bring some outside people into Stoughton.”

The marketplace will be situated at Mandt Park where the Coffee Break vendor and car show is typically held. The site will have space for more than 100 12-by-12-foot stalls, Johnson said. About 20 vendors have already signed up, and she anticipates about 50 or 60 will join in the first year.

The marketplace is open to many types of vendors, Johnson said, which should help encourage different types of shoppers, too.

“It’s not just arts and crafts, it’s not just a swap meet,” Johnson said. “It’s everything wrapped into one.”

Johnson said shoppers will find farmers market goods, antiques, collectibles, handmade arts and crafts and more. Spots are available for Stoughton brick-and-mortar businesses, too. Johnson said she’s been talking to local business owners about the marketplace.

“I think we can generate some revenue from outside sources - people buying gas, window shopping at local business,” Johnson said.

The Stoughton Planning Commission approved the zoning changes with a few questions about the location and size of the marketplace, but unanimously sent their recommendation to approve the changes to the council for review on Feb. 26.

Planning director Rodney Scheel said previous discussions about similar events drew some concern from residents, but those concerns weren’t related to zoning issues, rather residents wanted to be sure the events were regulated and run properly.

Johnson, who has experience attending craft shows her entire life, said part of the reason for starting a marketplace in Stoughton was because other markets she’s been to have been run so poorly or priced too high for vendors.

“So many are run really poorly and not organized,” she said.

Johnson has spent the last year getting the marketplace organized. The idea was brought to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department about six months ago, said Planning Commission and Parks Committee member Ald. Eric Olstad (Dist. 4).

“We’ve had this on the agenda for quite some time,” Olstad said. “There’s been a lot of due diligence back and forth. For the most part, I think the committee feels very comfortable with where this is going.”

While the zoning approval is a step forward, recreation director Tom Lynch said the department still has some review of the plans before they’re finalized. Johnson, too, is in the process of seeking more vendors. Interested vendors can visit, email or call Johnson at 622-9308.

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