As the smell of doughnuts drifted through the Broadway Market over the weekend, vendors sold Polish specialties that are mostly associated with the East Side landmark during its busiest season: Easter.
But Sunday, Christmas carols set the tone at the market, where wine, beer, olive oil and veggie burgers also were among the wares for sale.
The market is approaching its 125th anniversary, and supporters are striving to maintain its status as a place to shop during the holidays and to remind patrons that it’s open year-round.
The market is usually closed on Sundays, but the weekend was an exception to accommodate shoppers who needed to prepare for Christmas dinner or purchase a last-minute gift. The crowd was decent in the early afternoon, but it waned long before the 4 p.m. closing time.
Genga Ponnampalam has sold vegetarian products at the market for 10 years, and he thinks a greater effort needs to be made to attract people who work downtown.
“We need more traffic, more people,” he said.
ALDI, which opened across the street in the fall, has driven more traffic to the area, which has been good, but a nearby factory also would help, Ponnampalam said.
The conversion of a central area in the market from one store to a space for several vendors has been helpful, he added, but the market needs to continue to diversify its vendors as the demographics around the market become more diverse.
“If you come weekdays, you don’t see anyone,” he said.
The market is trying to take advantage of its considerable space by creating business incubators for emerging entrepreneurs, where people can make products, said market manager Kathleen Peterson.
Paula Kurasiewicz-Duge is moving production of her pierogi from Niagara Falls to the market, which will be more convenient, she said.
The addition of new vendors has drawn new shoppers, as have new promotion efforts by the market’s manager, Kurasiewicz-Duge said.
Shoppers at the market can find produce, meat and seafood, as well as Christmas decorations, jewelry, photos of the city, candy, olive oil and vinegar from D’Avolio, clothing and all-natural dog treats.
“I like it here,” said Tammy Mercer, who opened Tammie’s Candies in October. “People are colorful.”
Mercer said too many people consider the market “just an Easter thing.”
Jenn Wegryzn, who lives in the Elmwood Village, had never been to the market before, but she said she wanted to support local businesses.
“We wanted our son to see the Polish traditions,” she said.
Buffalo resident William Johnson came to the market to buy chicken and ribs, and he stayed for macaroni and cheese, pork chop and home fries from McKenzie’s Soul Food.
“It’s drab,” he said of the market. “It’s not the Galleria.”
The market will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. It will be closed Tuesday, Wednesday and New Year’s Day, but it is generally open Monday through Saturday.