Great question. We'll try to keep the answer brief, but this touches on an issue about which we are passionate. The Town has new sidewalks, parks, lampposts, pool house, etc., but those of us living in Town have to travel out of town to find a decent meal, clothes, entertainment and most everything. We attempt to "shop local" at all costs, but sometimes can't find what we need. We are thankful for the flower shop, the duck pin alley, and the thrift stores, and so on. Mt. Jackson used to be a thriving small town, with much more to offer.
The brief answer is that the Market's primary focus is specifically the local MtJacksonian. This is why we used the Town name in our name. If we can't meet the local demand/desires, then we will have failed. We are sensitive to the fact that the median household income is $35,800, and will therefore make certain that things are priced accordingly. We had a lot of great encouragement last summer, with folks from the community saying "These prices are cheaper than at the grocery store," and "we'd rather buy from locals than from the store." That's what we like to hear. We expect to have something for everyone, and, of course, would be foolish if we did not plan for the out-of-towner crowd, but that's not our first focus. Our overhead is lower, so we can keep prices down, while providing better quality.
The longer answer is that, the Town is now focusing on the new General Dollar, which means another empty spot at the shopping center, and more of the community's money going to China (I challenge you to find a single American-made thing in that store); AND on the southern I-81 interchange, according to the campaign letter I received from one of the councilmen that is up for re-election.
The letter reads, "Now that we have completed so many renovations [in Mount Jackson], we can start looking to future Mount Jackson projects and issues. In [this council-member's] mind the biggest opportunity is the southern I-81 interchange. This remains one of the last undeveloped interchanges in the Northern Shenandoah Valley. We have a real opportunity to turn this into a landmark tourist welcoming area. No immediate big development plans are underway, but this site has great possibilities—and needs encouragement coupled with careful guidance."
How are THOSE places going to serve the locals?! I suppose they will increase the tax revenue for the Town, and maybe even provide a few new jobs, but they're not really providing anything to the locals. What local needs to go to a tourist welcoming center? The Dollar General is not going to be providing that many new jobs, as its main goal is simply to get out of the shopping center because they want to offer more food, and the Shopping center's rules don't allow that. The plans for the visitor's center haven't been revealed fully, but this will likely increase tourist traffic to Town. So we support it for that. However, we need to have something in town that will benefit US, in addition to providing interest to the tourists. (Again, we are not developing the MJFM for toursits, but rather for US!)
We recently received the Mayor's newsletter. Perhaps our expectations are too high, but we would think that converting the largest and longest vacant building in the Downtown District would at least garner a bit more support from the Town officials.
For those who believe (and maybe even hope) that we are going to fail because of lack of financing, we can only say that perhaps they are right. We don't have deep pockets, and this is a rather large project. However, we have a lot of support, as well as a clear vision, and a bit of expertise. And we have the flexibility to grow into the property, if necessary. This is why the KickStarter project is so important, and why we've partnered with some great local businesses to provide the rewards.
When we use the term "destination" we want it to be a destination for locals first and foremost. THIS is our customer base. Though we'll be a bit different from, say, Dayton Farmers' market, I think that the model there is one that promotes local patronization.
As for passers-by/tourists, the thing that keeps tourists coming back is an honest, true experience - not something contrived or that they can get somewhere else (Cracker Barrel comes to mind.) We have the chance to be unique, and provide both local consumers and local businesses a place to meet. So, we're not about being something for tourists either.
We do hope to introduce a railroad theme at some point, considering the tracks are right out back, but that won't come into play until later. Right now, we just need to get the doors open and be taken seriously.
Any advice at how we can best serve the locals is welcome!