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In The News

Marketplace Reopens in Rohnert Park

Sonoma Mountain Marketplace — billed as the largest indoor street fair in the North Bay — is back, revamped, reconfigured and hoping to become a Sonoma County destination.

The indoor market, located in Rohnert Park’s Sonoma Mountain Village, will have to become just that to overcome the perception that it’s off the beaten path.

On Sunday, curious visitors, drawn by fliers and advertisements, casually strolled through the cavernous, 66,000-square-foot marketplace, an eclectic mix of artisan vendors, food vendors and food trucks, antique shops, boutique clothing, sweets and specialty services.

“People come in here and act like they need a Sherpa to find it,” said David Nystrom, who operates a shop in the marketplace called Fulton Creek Nursery.

The nursery, owned by his ex-wife Susan Nystrom, shares a booth space with Dale Englehorn, owner of Seed-O-Sphere, which sells unique terra cotta wildflower seed balls.

“The key factor is making this a destination,” Nystrom said. “It’s a wonderful community asset for local vendors and growers and merchants. It’s a small merchant mall.”

But to succeed, the marketplace will have to be more than that, said Dana Bryant, who along with her husband, Michael, launched the initial marketplace in September.

The marketplace is a project of the Bryants’ faith-based residential program, Crossing the Jordan, which helps women and children in crisis. Bryant said the previous marketplace focused on individual vendors and shops. The reconfigured marketplace offers vendors the opportunity to pool their goods into larger cooperative-type booths with the hope of being more open and inviting to the public.

Also, an effort was made to attract permanent vendors such as Aubergine of Sebastopol, Bird’s Nest of Montgomery Village and We 3 Family Store, whose owners also operate Wee 3 Children’s Store in Santa Rosa.

At the north end of the marketplace building, which once housed Hewlett-Packard and Agilent operations, the Bryants are building “Joy Town,” a kid’s entertainment center with birthday party rooms, video arcades, games and amusement rides.

Adjacent to that is a small “man cave” with a large flat-screen television where husbands and boyfriends can kill a few hours while significant others shop the homegrown boutique shops.

Bryant fashioned the marketplace with a 1900s family-centered theme. ”It’s like that Main Street feel that people respond to, are hungry for,” Bryant said.

The marketplace is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The goal is to eventually expand to five days a week by the spring of 2016, said Erica Kazarian, marketplace manager.

Bryant said the project would not have been possible without the generous help of property owners Codding Enterprises and the Ken Martin family.

Saturday drew about 1,000 visitors, though the marketplace will need to attract between 5,000 to 10,000 people a weekend to succeed, Bryant said.

Alisa Westergaard of Santa Rosa and her mother, Susan Park of Hidden Valley Lake, were among the visitors on Sunday. Westergaard said she saw a marketplace flier and thought it would be something she could do with her mother.

“It’s a good mix of new and used, a little bit of something for everybody,” she said. “I really like that it’s all local, all local people, local vendors. So if you buy something, you’re making a difference in your community.”

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