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Good-Bye French Market, Hello Front Street Market

Two weeks after the village board was set to extend the French Market contract, members unanimously shot it down to give Front Street merchants their shot at running a downtown market.

After 10 years, the French Market at is no more, but the village is hoping a group of Front Street merchants can keep a market running in Mokena.

"We now know what the French Market was like and now, as I understand it, we'll have a chance to see what something else is like," Mayor Joe Werner said during Monday's village board meeting.

During the meeting, the board discussed whether to extend the contract with Bensidoun Inc. to run the French Market. The 10-year contract expires this spring.

. But after an often-heated, two-hour debate decided to table the measure until the next meeting to give a chance for more public comment.

This week, the board seemingly agreed, unanimously voting against the French Market contract.

"I don't think anyone expected it to go this way," said one of the Front Street merchants, Tony Dina of .

Werner said the merchants were the first and only option considered after Bensidoun.

"At this time I think everyone would agree that since this is on Front Street and their businesses are there, they should have first shot at it," Werner said.

Trustee John Mazzorana said the businesses should set up a market quickly so as not to lose merchants who might otherwise go elsewhere.

"It's like when you close a restaurant and then re-open it," Mazzorana said. "Sometimes you get the customers back. Sometimes you don't."

The French Market typically ran from May to October, so if the merchants' market will stick to that schedule, they have just over a month to organize.

"Because of the time crunch because of the time frame, there's going to be a lot of trial and error," said one of the merchants, Tony Dina of Dina's Barber Shop.

The 10-year contract has a three-year non-compete clause, meaning the village can't hold any market in the Metra lot until 2015.

The merchants said they plan to hold their market on Front Street, shutting down the road between the two Metra lot entrances.

Paige Cantwell March 27, 2012 at 11:26 AM
I think this is good. When I would see the French Market advertised, I was embarrassed that it was built up so much. A friend was actually going to drive over from Highland, Indiana to it, when she could get the same thing much closer to home. I'm glad the local mercharts are getting their chance to make a go of it!
Mario Picciola March 27, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Kudos to the board members and the Mokena residents that made this happen. Special thanks to those not afraid to take a stand on an issue resulting in a great opportunity for our local merchants.
tess March 27, 2012 at 12:53 PM
I think it is wonderful that the local merchants will be getting a chance to show off their merchandise, products and services as they shake hands with our community. However .... I'm hoping they will extend invitations to a few of the out-of-state farmers to be a part of the market (i.e., the Michigan Man who sells amazing produce!) Mokena needs access to good-quality, locally grown produce from our neighboring states especially with gas prices continuing to rise. He has amazing apples in the fall!
Kim McAuliffe March 27, 2012 at 01:30 PM
yes we want everyone back! I shopped the market every weekend. the produce cheeses baked goods YUMMMMMM & don't forget the nice avon lady & lots of other wonderful people! I am hoping many more set up roots here! Kim Mc An English Garden
Kim McAuliffe March 27, 2012 at 01:31 PM
thanks mario! I love my downtown area & I am looking to expand! Kim Mc An English Garden
Kim McAuliffe March 27, 2012 at 01:32 PM
I think it will be bigger & better than ever! Let's spread the word & get all the home based business's out here too! Kim Mc An English Garden
Kim McAuliffe March 27, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Thank you for all of our wonderful customers that help to keep us local mom & pop business's alive. With out you we would not be able to do what we love!!! Kim Mc An English Garden
Don Labriola March 27, 2012 at 03:12 PM
This is a grand day for Mokena. The downtown & front Street merchants, along with businesses from all over Mokena and beyond are going to put on a market like we've never seen before in our village. This new infusion of local business experience and community pride will be instrumental in creating a successful and dynamic atmosphere in our downtown area. I have a strong feeling that this is just the beginning of a renaissance in downtown Mokena. Good luck to all, Trustee Don.
Jim Giglio March 27, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Congratulations to all that spoke out against the French Market and " forced " an opportunity for discussion that led to our Front Street Merchants organizing and offering a " Hometown Market " for our residents , guests and vendors. Though the discussion was described to be contentious by some who supported the market vigorously I believe "passionate " is a much better description of the debate ! Our Merchants on Front Street many of whom have been in business there for Decades can offer that personal touch and hometown feel I believe will create a successful Enviroment for our resident, vendors and guests . GO MOKENA !
Mike Buziecki March 27, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Who is the contact person for potential vendors?
DomeHome March 27, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Thank you Front Street Merchants. I believe our own Business Community knows what works there and what doesn't. They can tweak the process as they go along. Congrats to you and Thank you to the Village Board for listening to the interested groups and residents. Please let us all know through the media if you need volunteers to get this going. How about a FaceBook Page asap?? A dedicated website is pretty cheap to start up! Good Luck--GO MOKENA!!!
Gail M March 27, 2012 at 05:09 PM
As the Market reorganizes, perhaps they could take a look at the Farmers market in Lockport; They have vendors with their own preserves, salsas etc, a cheese vendor with unusual and wonderful cheeses, home baked and hot breads and much more. Quite honestly, I was always a little disappointed when I went to the French Market in Mokena; I thought the potential for more variety was always present. Thanks for trying to improve and for allowing the local merchants to showcase, but lets invite other vendors too to increase the variety and interest
Kim McAuliffe March 27, 2012 at 05:19 PM
i would say Daves Auto
Kim McAuliffe March 27, 2012 at 05:20 PM
please let everyone know that are at other markets. we would LOVE to have them down here!
Paul Dailing March 27, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Barb Bergman at Dave's Auto Sales Contact info: http://mokena.patch.com/listings/daves-auto-sales-and-service
Anthony A Dina Jr. March 27, 2012 at 06:48 PM
I find it quite warming to read all of these positive responses to the Village Board decision about the Market on Front Street, it shows that the community as a whole is in favor of promoting ourselves and our own village merchants, and many thanks to the Village Board for voting with their hearts and not through opinions.
Jim Giglio March 27, 2012 at 07:45 PM
It seems the comments are positive and constructive with much anticipation of a successful market . I believe now would be a good time for our Village Board to reach out to Bensidoun and politely ask them to drop the 3 yr non-compete clause that is now in place restricting the use " our parking lot " , It serves no viable purpose other than to punish us ! And who knows Bensidoun may realize this and wish us well with our endeavor ? Nothing Ventured , Nothing Gained ! GO MOKENA !
Kim McAuliffe March 28, 2012 at 01:43 PM
great job goes out to you Dino's Barber Shop & Daves Auto Sales for all of your hard work. & a big thank you also to everyone that has help & has given all of the positive feedback.
Norm April 01, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Looking forward to it!
Vince Difiore April 04, 2012 at 03:11 PM
It's great that the Mokena Downtown Merchants have taken the bull by the horns and will be running the matket. Also we should thank all the village trustees who voted for the change. A special thanks to the Mayor,Joe Swinsky,Don Labriola and to John Mazzarana for having tabled the vote till coolers heads prevailed. As a citizen of Mokena it's going to be real asset to the village.
Vince DiFiore April 06, 2012 at 02:18 PM
The market will have 12 dates thruout the year set aside for perfomers and singers and bands. The market will need sponsors for these events, the cost will be $200.00 Contact me at vincentldifiore@yahoo.com. We would also entertain the idea of garage bands, drama queens,bake sales for local churches, the library could also sell books.You must sign up in advance. So reserve your date. There would be no charge to any of the above groups.Local amateur groups welcome.

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