Community Market Asks for Support at City Council Session

“We were having a spirited debate,” Mayor Watts joked as the council trickled into the Chamber late Tuesday night. In the audience, several representatives of the Denton Community Market, several regulars, and councillor-elect Deb Armintor mingled before the meeting got underway.

On a night that signaled the likely final appearance of longtime councillor Dalton Gregory, who is gearing up to retire by the 26th, the docket of the council’s public meeting showed a brief consent agenda, followed closely by several deliberations of import. Before the regular agenda items became the sole attention of those behind the dais, several local businesspersons had the audience and council alike laughing and politics forgotten, if even momentarily — in contrast with some uncharacteristic divisiveness of the prior few weeks. The topic of unity: dog treats.

The floor was ceded to several members of the community surrounding the Denton Community Market, an organization that has become as synonymous with “Denton” as the institution the small crowd was watching on a mild June night. The first speaker, the Market’s executive director, presented several statistics of interest to the council — namely, those which represented the Market’s increasing role as a business incubator. On Saturdays alone, the Market grossed over $700,000; 23% of the Market’s vendors were startups, as were 23% of the vendors minority-owned; most staggeringly of all, 63% of the vendors were women-owned.

The second speaker was of the latter category, the owner of the popular Susie’s Scrumptious Snacks, which recently opened up its first brick-and-mortar store, thanks in no small part to the support gained through five years at the Community Market. The entrepreneur expressed her gratitude toward the Market, calling the last three weeks "the best of my life.”

After her testimony to the Council, outgoing councillor Gregory recalled how good the treats were from personal experience. “They weren’t marked as dog treats,” he laughed. Mayor Watts then interjected and testified to his dog’s loyalty to the brand, and the mood was considerably light as those who represented the Market recognized how intertwined their brands had become with Denton, all the way to the highest echelons of governance.

As a letter was read by one of the Marketers from a UNT student who regularly attended the Market, quoting how “the Market provided a small town vibe in a big city,” her time before the council ended the same as the previous three had: the Market was largely reliant on grants and private funding for support, and the unofficial institution was requesting further support from the council. For a meeting marked by amendments to construction contracts and expansions to landfills, the appeal — and the topic — was surprisingly personal.

Though no policy proposals were placed before the council by those representing the Denton Community Market Tuesday night, the request was singular: “[Please], continue to support the Market.”

“People ask how we support the little guy [here in Denton],” Gregory continued. “Well, we support them through the Community Market.” He paused, looking to his other council members. “Let’s make sure we keep them in our minds moving forward.”

Curtis Stratton can be contacted via Twitter @Curtis_Stratton

Header image photographed by Ellie Gonzalez
Header image layout designed by Mateo Granados