NORTH CENTER — With farmers markets cropping up across Chicago's neighborhoods, Sam Yanover saw an opportunity to try something a little different in North Center.
The NorthEND Green Market, set to debut May 10 in Lane Tech's parking lot, "casts a wider net," according to Yanover, one of the partners in the enterprise.
"We're really about community," he said. "We wanted to get more community businesses involved and tap into the artist community. We want to create some diversity."
(Some may remember Yanover, a political and corporate consultant, as the campaign manager of Ald. Ameya Pawar's first run for office. The market is a personal venture, with no ties to the alderman, Yanover said.)
Technically certified as a "French market" by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, NorthEND Green is exempt from some of the restrictions placed on farmers markets proper, primarily the need for all products to be locally sourced.
For example, Yanover said he spoke with the owner of a small business that sells varieties of olive oil, imported from outside the Midwest. That's the type of vendor, looking to reach neighborhood customers, who will find a home at NorthEND, along with artists and crafters, purveyors of breads and baked goods, honey, cheese, flowers, grains and pasta, handmade soaps, coffee, tea and more.
"It's not a flea market," Yanover said.
Instead, he likened the concept to Seattle's famed Pike Place — a one-stop market for fresh produce, crafts, music and merchandise like collectibles and sports memorabilia.
With its location at Lane Tech — the market's fee to rent the space will go directly to the school, not CPS — NorthEND is setting itself up directly in the shadow of Jewel and Mariano's.
"We're not looking to compete — we're not carrying cereal," said Yanover. "This just offers more options on Western."
Less than two weeks to go before its opening day, NorthEND is "painstakingly trying to recruit vendors," he said. "It's a little late in the season ... but there's been an overwhelming amount of interest."
A vendor requirement and application page can be found on NorthEND's website. The market's hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays, beginning May 10-11.