Camden public market set to open

Posted: August 25, 2013

It's not every day Camden gets a new business to set up shop. Now the distressed city is getting 97.

With the Mount Ephraim Avenue Pathmark "Store Closing" sign as her backdrop, Camden Mayor Dana L. Redd handed the developers of the new Haddon Farmers Market a $1.25 million check Friday that will allow the owners to hold a grand opening Thursday.

"It's the first public market of its size" in Camden, Redd said at a news conference. "It's a place where neighbors can meet for coffee, and families can enjoy carnivals."

The market has leases with 97 vendors, offering everything from Amish produce to seafood to furniture. There's even a tattoo parlor. Each vendor is considered an individual business and must receive a certificate of occupancy from the city.

The $1.25 million, a 10-year loan from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, was the final piece of funding for the $6 million project. The rest of the funding consisted of a $3.5 million loan from Parke Bank and other private sources.

The market, most of which is new construction, is expected to provide $51,000 in annual tax revenue and 100 new jobs, city officials said.

Redd said she hoped the market would serve as a catalyst for more investments in the city.

Keith Ludwick, the brains behind the project, who has developed various public markets in South Jersey, including the former Pennsauken Mart, said he wanted to give back to the city where he grew up.

"We believe in Camden. . . . The city needs something positive like this," Ludwick said.

With his signature thick black suspenders holding up his jeans, Ludwick gave a tour of the 110,000-square-foot facility to Redd and other state and city officials Friday.

About a dozen stores were already up and running.

As Redd went through the facility, she greeted shop owners and joked with some.

"When I get married, I'll come here," she said when she noticed the lacy lingerie on display at one vendor, chuckling when she saw adult toys among the display.

Redd's chief of staff, Novella Hinson, teasingly asked for permission to get a tattoo on her foot as the mayor greeted the tattoo parlor owners.

Redd's group also checked out the perfume shop, a Tupperware distributor, and a hair products and wigs vendor.

The most popular vendors seemed to be the eateries, such as the pizza shop in the middle of the market and the Icy Delights ice cream shop.

City Councilman Luis Lopez was the only one to take up Redd's offer to buy ice cream. He went with the water ice, which Icy Delights owner Beth Miller said was homemade.

Miller, 49, of Cherry Hill, happily greeted the customers who came by Friday afternoon.

After flooding forced Miller to close an ice cream shop she ran in Williamstown in January, her accountant mentioned the Haddon Farmers Market, and she jumped right in.

It's closer to her home and she likes being in a flea-market atmosphere because of the bustle of people it brings, Miller said.

"Everybody loves ice cream," she said, promising her store would soon also have a frozen-banana bar.

For a city that has had a constant decline in business, the most dramatic being the July announcement that Pathmark will close in September, the Haddon market couldn't have come at a better time.

"Our residents will enjoy shopping here," Redd said. "It gets folks to spend local."

Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Contact Claudia Vargas at 856-779-3917,, or follow on Twitter @InqCVargas. Read her blog, "Camden Flow," on

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