Chattanooga Times Free Press: Editorial

The Chattanooga Market, held at the First Tennessee Pavilion on the Southside, already has a strong following in the city and surrounding area. The more than 350,000 people who visited it last year are testament to its popularity. The market likely will attract more visitors in its the upcoming season, which begins May 1. The reason? It’s just been named as one of the Top 10 Best Public Markets in America by Frommer’s, one of the nation’s and the world’s most respected travel guides. That should bring more visitors to the market — both from the area and from afar.

Frommer’s praised the market as one of the region’s best places to find a variety of artwork and hand-made items — these range from soaps to note cards to hand-crafted furniture — and to purchase home-grown fruits and vegetables. To assure home-grown and handmade authenticity, the magazine says, the market requires each of its active vendors to be both sole producer and retailer of its goods.

It’s a formula that works. On some Sundays, about 15,000 people visit the market, though the number varies from week to week during the venue’s May-December season.

Chris Thomas, executive director of the market, is, of course, pleased to be included on the list, though he had no advance knowledge that the market would be. It’s a “pretty outstanding honor really,” he said.

He’s not sure how the local market was selected or who visited from Frommer’s. Such an approach is welcome. It gives Frommer’s and similar guides a reputation for objectivity appreciated by real and armchair travelers.

The Chattanooga Market’s inclusion on the list put it in the company of some of the nation’s oldest and most well-known markets. Also included on the list were the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, Pa.; the Oxbow Public Market in Napa, Calif.; Market Square in San Antonio, Texas; the Los Angeles, Calif., Farmers Market; the Milwaukee, Wis., Public Market; the Pittsburgh, Pa., Public Market; the West Side Market in Cleveland, Ohio; and the Eastern Market in Washington, D.C.

That’s impressive company. Thomas and the other individuals who make the market what it is — and Chattanooga — should be proud.