It was a typical Friday at the Shmidt Spirits distillery for College Park resident and master distiller Brian Roan — until he found out about a possible temporary closure of the Hollywood Farmers Market, the main market Shmidt Spirits does business.

“I immediately went into action mode because no one knew,” Roan said. “If I work there and I live in the community and I don’t know, then what are the odds that people who don’t work there or don’t live in the community know?”

Discussions about the future of the Hollywood market sparked conversations among College Park residents, who are asking for more recognition and support from the city. It’s also drawn in people involved in other farmers markets — most of which have seen more traffic and less controversy than the Hollywood market.

City staff discussed the possibility of a temporary Hollywood closure, arguing that operational costs for fiscal year 2025 would be too great given the market’s lack of vendors and city staff to run operations. The city-funded market, held each Saturday in District 1, is expected to cost about $30,000 next fiscal year.

But Roan’s posts on Facebook and Nextdoor motivated nearly 100 people to email council members before a Feb. 20 council meeting where a discussion about the market was on the table.

Council members recommended continuing the Hollywood market’s operations as is, according to a post by District 1 council member Jacob Hernandez on Nextdoor after the Feb. 20 meeting.

While Roan was happy with the outcome, he said he was disappointed that discussions about the market’s future happened behind closed doors and didn’t include community input before taking place on the council meeting floor.

“It is unconscionable that the community didn’t have an opportunity to weigh in on the farmers market issue in advance of staff making a recommendation,” Roan said at the Feb. 20 council meeting.

[College Park City Council considers temporarily closing Hollywood Farmers Market]

According to District 1 resident Kamthorn Clary, the market issue represents ongoing grievances that the district has with the city’s government.

“We feel like we’ve been undersupported, we’ve been underfunded, we’ve had less amenities than other [parts of the] city get,” Clary said. “[The farmer’s market is] one of the few community centers that everyone can go out and congregate at.”

HK Beall, a College Park resident and studio art vendor at the Hollywood market, said the market should not be overlooked. It offers a “close-knit” and welcoming community that others don’t, Beall said.

Along with Hollywood, College Park also houses the University of Maryland Farmers Market and College Park Farmers Market near Paint Branch Parkway.

Phil Miller, the owner of Miller Farms in the city, has run the College Park market since 1979, according to Robyn Gaston, who has been the market’s manager and vendor coordinator for the last five years.

Under Gaston’s coordination, the College Park market has grown from five to about 30 vendors weekly, Gaston said.

“A lot of our vendors are actually people who live in the community or they were actual customers at one time and now they’ve become vendors,” Gaston said. “Even now they went from table vendors to even being food truck owners … they themselves have grown with the market.”

Gaston said the College Park market also doesn’t allow two vendors — aside from those who sell bakery items or produce — to sell the same products.

Ashley and Eric Terrell, who own King and Queen Sea Moss, said this rule has made the market more profitable for vendors.

“Other markets we’ve gone to, you’ve got three other people who do the same thing you do,” Eric Terrell said. “We don’t have to deal with any of that at the [College Park Farmer’s Market], it’s just a really laid back, friendly environment.”

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Gaston said because since the Hollywood market is funded by the city and is situated in a more remote location, its operations are more complicated in comparison to the College Park market.

For Berwyn Heights residents Therese and Jeff Forbes, the owners of bee product business Honey Glow and vendors at the Hollywood market, better advertising by the city could help the Hollywood market overcome these constraints.

The market’s location next to MOM’s Organic Market on Rhode Island Avenue is a prime spot and could use more publicity, Jeff Forbes said.

Stephanie Young, who owns Blue Berwyn Farm and sells products at the Hollywood market, agreed that the market’s location is ideal even if it is not as frequented as other markets.

Young also sells her products at the neighboring Riverdale Park Market, where she’s noticed a lack of parking and overcrowding when the market is at peak capacity, she said.

But it’s substantially bigger than Hollywood and has more vendors, Young said. She attributed its success partly to its operational structure, where market managers get paid a share of vendors’ market income.

Like the Hollywood Farmers Market, the Riverdale Park market is also supported by its town.

“The incentive for the [Riverdale Park] market manager is to make sure that there’s a lot of sales going on,” Young said. “[At Hollywood] they may be incentivized because they know us and like us.”

Young said involving more students from this university could help the Hollywood Farmers Market in the future.

“There’s a lot of opportunities to connect with the university,” Young said. “Recognizing that young people generally have a lot more out-of-the-box ideas … could help us.”