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Outdoor Street Market

duncanSWITCH celebrates historic one-year anniversary

It’s a glimpse to the past that is paving the way of the future.

That’s how Steve Martin, Duncanville Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, describes the phenomenal success of the duncanSWITCH Outdoor Street Market, just recently celebrating an historic first anniversary.

“It’s a step back in time with an eye to the future,” says Martin, who explains how on one Saturday each month tents rise up along the Main Street corridor at Center Street to form the duncanSWITCH Street Market, immediately adjacent to the railroad switch and the market’s namesake. “The concept harkens back to a time when neighbors came together as a community and business was conducted with a handshake.”

According to Martin, a retired 40-year business owner and 36-year Chamber volunteer, the idea to host a monthly street market had its origins years ago when he and Monte Anderson, award-winning innovative developer known for restoring the historic Belmont Hotel on Fort Worth Avenue in North Oak Cliff, leader of the Design Studio Group and founding president of the Congress of New Urbanism North Texas Chapter, first discussed the need for a market or event to draw shoppers to the Main Street corridor. Out of the Duncanville Design Studio came duncanSWITCH, the once-a-month open air street market hosting a plethora of vendors, food and community fun.

With a three-fold purpose to drive business to Main Street, to serve as an incubator for small business entrepreneurs, and to promote recycling by encouraging community members to recycle and resell old items stored in garages, the duncanSWITCH U Market has become a vital force in revitalization and driving development of Duncanville’s Main Street Vision.

Practical plans for the open air street market were cemented through community meetings first held at the local Main Street Kitchen’s Deli, an old-fashioned soda fountain and sandwich shop.

“From that group and meetings with the city, we held the first duncanSWITCH Street Market in April, 2014 with 30 open-air tents housing space for entrepreneurs to test the market and grow a following,” explains Martin. “Just one year later, we’re going strong, have almost doubled in size, and are looking to how we can continue expansion and growth – possibly expanding from Center to Davis Street.”

One Saturday every month from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., business in Duncanville takes a step back in time as entrepreneurs set up under the shade of tents in a “pop-up retail center environment” to offer everything from homemade barbecue, donuts, old-fashion homemade candies, snow cones, flowers, refurbished signs, and homemade crafts to pickles.

Vendors like Vonda Pipkin of Pizzazzy Pickles, a math teacher by day at nearby Seagoville Middle School and pickle maker during her off hours, tempt shoppers with samples and sales.

Pipkin’s jars of homemade crinkle-cut sweet and spicy pickles are a popular monthly staple at the market, with the brand’s popularity growing and public attention leading to deals with local restaurants and retail distributers.

In addition to Pizzazzy Pickles, the market has helped grow businesses like Tilly’s Old Fashion Candies, Elite BBQ, Casa de Masa and Kona Ice Snowcones.

The duncanSWITCH Market is part of a larger grassroots effort to revitalize the city. Duncanville Design Studio – a group of 20-plus business owners, city leaders and residents, meets once a month and is now a committee operating in partnership with the Chamber. The group’s vision to rejuvenate and enliven the city through low-cost, small scale project ideas has resulted in the development of city bike lanes, renovation of city parks, restoring old homes and painting a mural of Duncanville’s history on the Duncanville Feed Store. Other current projects include an Artists’ Bureau, and renovation of the old Feed Store on Main Street near the site of the duncanSWITCH Market.

Martin, a 40-year resident of Duncanville, says it’s all about the community coming together to decide how Duncanville should look in the future. He says the market’s long-term sustainability is supported by its simple, free-flowing design – only one Main Street lane is closed during the market to keep traffic flowing through the corridor.

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