Monday, September 17, 2012

Different neighborhood, same story

Two years ago, living in my parents house for the first time in a decade, I quickly realized that running one market is certainly not enough to sustain myself and my lifestyle in Dallas. The Brooklyn Flea guys can charge $100 a booth and hold their market every weekend, but that's New York City, and I knew that getting people to Deep Ellum would be a challenge, especially in the beginning.

That's why I set up the business to be replicable in different places. In two years of operation, we've been able to set up markets in various neighborhoods and venues, from West Dallas to Downtown to Fair Park. The next neighborhood and project on the list is the Dallas Design District and the Design District Market.

What's interesting about this project is that it's remarkably similar to starting the Deep Ellum Market two years ago. Telling people about DEOM at that time, I encountered a lot of skepticism from vendors, special event producers, and people in the neighborhood. A few months removed from our 2 Year Anniversary, I like to think we've proved our critics wrong.

Now, telling people about the Design District Market on October 4 produces the same blank stares and quizzical looks when DEOM was still very young. Vendors are skeptical that people will come to this area of Dallas. There are neighborhood factions with little history of working together. Even fellow urbanists question the viability of the Design District as a pedestrian friendly environment.

I see the Design District as an up and coming neighborhood. According to information I've received from our partners on this project, Jim Lake Companies, the Design District now boasts almost 1,800 residents (up from 43 in the year 2000) and 1,026 businesses (80% related to decor/furniture/interior design). There are 11 restaurants, a theater, a museum,  a brewery, 22 art galleries, Trammel Crow Park, and the recently approved Trinity Strand Trail.

Like Deep Ellum, the Design District's infilling of empty space has the potential to be something great in the City of Dallas. The challenge, again, is to show that there is another neighborhood in the Central Dallas area that exhibits signs of real, organic growth.