Driving around the Los Angeles area on a Saturday morning, one is pretty likely to encounter a Farmers’ Market. They have become quite commonplace today; we even have one on Lower Campus on Wednesdays. However, the exchange of products directly between the producer and the consumer was not always an established means of business. Ergo the original Farmers’ Market, the market located on the corner of Wilshire Blvd., has become a tourist attraction, for it is the location where this mode of operation was cultivated in Los Angeles.
This original Farmers’ Market opened in July, 1934, the product of the Depression and an idea. Fred Beck and Roger Dahlhjelm wanted to give their brain-child a trial run, so they invited eighteen farmers to the corner of Third and Fairfax to sell their fruits and vegetables directly to consumers. Their idea turned out to be a massive success and by October of the same year, the Farmers’ Market had grown substantially. Tenants began to establish permanent stalls, and grocers, restaurant owners, and laborers in the service industry began to make the market their place of business.
A close ally of Hollywood, the Farmer’s Market grew up as a product of its times. The establishment used the public’s admiration of the stars to attract patrons. Shirley Temple was spotted behind the Brock’s Candie counter on one occasion. Ava Gardner was spotted shopping for hats, Marilyn Monroe made an alluring appearance for the opening of Michael’s Cheesecakes, and the Beetles and Frank Sinatra were spotted making exchanges with the vendors. As these public figures began to frequent the market, they drew the public’s attention and business toward the establishment.
Today, the Farmers’ Market on Wilshire Blvd. has become a tourist attraction, housing not just fruits and vegetables, but also crafts and boutiques; however, it still maintains an air of nostalgia and preserves the culture it grew up with. It hosts local bands for live entertainment on Friday nights in the summer and throws a Fall Festival every year around Autumn Harvest, giving it the down-to-earth, close-knit vibe that patrons seek.