Market Days Kicks Off With Big Success In Mercedes
The Queen City Market Days had modest expectations heading into its inaugural event on July 17.
Organizers talked of hopefully having 30 vendors set up booths and tables along Texas Avenue in downtown Mercedes. When the first Saturday of Market Days arrived, there was double the vendors first thought possible. Sixty vendors set up on the 17th, spilling over from the east side of Texas and into the courtyard by TRW Hat Company.
“This is all more than we anticipated,’’ said Fred Gonzalez, the president of the Mercedes Chamber of Commerce. “There’s obviously a big need. It’s creating excitement.’’
The event organizers want Mercedes to have the sort of farmers’ markets and similar downtown-style community events as is seen in Harlingen with its Jackson Street Market Days. The Mercedes organizers want their Market Days to augment what is being done in other cities, not compete against other similar events.
Mercedes will hold its event the third Saturday of every month on Texas from 12 noon-to-7 p.m. The first Market Days was just on one side of Texas, but given the turnout on July 17, the plans are to have vendors on both sides of the main street in August, and close off Texas to traffic. This is what Harlingen does with its market days in closing off Jackson Street downtown.
Steven Gallegos is a downtown business owner in Mercedes, and like any merchant, is always looking for ways to increase foot traffic.
Mercedes is already known for the live music of Little Nashville on every last Thursday of the month, and the yearly blowout of the Texas Street Festival on Labor Day weekend. It needed another kind of downtown event or platform, Gallegos said. The success of the Weslaco Eatery with its downtown food vendor district caught his attention.
“We want to create an event people want to go to,’’ said Gallegos, who owns the TRW Hat Company, and is one of the Market Days organizers. “People will go elsewhere if we don’t do something like this in our town.’’
The word started going out in early summer that Mercedes was planning to have its own monthly downtown market-type event. Gallegos offered to help host it in front of TRW and use the adjoining courtyard if enough vendors registered. People were starting to get out-and-about in breaking away from COVID-19 restrictions as more local residents got vaccinated.
A Markets Days event would be ideal, Gallegos figured, to get activity going in the community. The chamber’s Gonzalez, along with city government, got involved in the planning and discussions, and from there it was on to the third Saturday of July and the first try at the Queen City Market Days.
Coming up to the event on July 17, it was apparent the east side of Texas was already filled up with vendors offering barbecue, kettle corn along with jewelry and clothing. Around the corner from TRW, in the courtyard, vibrant and sunlight rows of vendors offered their wares as customers milled about.
The first Queen City Markets Days was a solid success. The ones to follow promise to be even bigger and better, on the third Saturday of every month on Texas Avenue.
“Our downtown merchants are seeing some customers walk into their stores for the first time,’’ Gonzalez said at the July 17 event.
In front of his business, Gallegos was similarly pleased with the inaugural event.
“For being the first go, we’re excited,’’ he said. “Mercedes deserves something like this and we’re all working together to make it happen.’’
- Ricardo D. Cavazos