For approximately ten years, I visited San Luis Obispo monthly for business purposes. It’s a quaint, small town with a population of about 40,000 nestled along the Central Coast of California. Many people whom I know and have been fortunate to have visited both (as I have) compare the mountainous region to that of Tuscany in Italy.
Each Thursday night Higuera Street is closed to traffic and locals gather for their Farmer’s Market, which is sponsored by the San Luis Obispo Downtown Association. The aroma of barbecue and other cuisines permeate the air; fresh produce, flowers, plants, locally made arts and crafts and other goods are displayed and sold. Local shops remain open as people wander in to browse and buy. Musicians entertain and restaurants are filled. It’s a joyful and successful gathering of vendors and buyers, alike. Hundreds of people wander about Higuera Street enjoying the atmosphere and the fresh cool evening of this coastal community. And then there’s Oxnard’s Farmer’s Market.
Oxnard, which is located approximately 90 miles south of “SLO”, also is a coastal city with a population which hovers around 200,000. Like SLO, Oxnard also has a Farmer’s Market held on Thursdays. However, Oxnard’s market is opened between the hours of 9:00 am and 2:00 when most people are working and are unable to attend. Additionally, though SLO has a population about 1/4 that of Oxnard’s, there is no comparing the hundreds of people who wander along Higuera Street each Thursday night compared to the trickle who shop at Oxnard’s Farmer’s Market at Plaza Park.
Oxnard should consider doing what SLO has successfully done for years. Close down a street near downtown on Thursday nights and only allow pedestrian traffic. For example, closing A Street from Third Street south to Ninth Street might work and provide a nice flow of patrons to local vendors and businesses, alike. Entrepreneurs, farmers, artisans and musicians selling and entertaining. It might be time for Oxnard’s Downtown Association to look toward SLO.