GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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January 25, 2013

IGA site hosting farmers' market

ROCKPORT — It’s been a cold week on Cape Ann, but there’s a farmers market set for Saturday at the Whistlestop Mall.

Jay Smith, owner of the mall, said about 15 vendors are due in to set up shop from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow, adjacent to the site of the former IGA market that closed its doors two years ago this month. This is the second farmers market at the mall since the winter started, the last one being in late December.

So far, Smith said, there remains “nothing concrete” in terms of an interested party opening a supermarket in the permanent Whistlestop Mall location, where the IGA had, for years, been the town’s only true grocery store.

In the meantime, however, residents and officials will still have to decide whether anyone who opens a grocery store there — or anywhere else in Rockport — will be granted a beer and wine license, as well.

Erin Battisteli, who chairs the Board of Selectmen, said a referendum for the grocery alcohol license is likely to make its way onto the ballot as residents move closer toward the May town election. The Board of Selectmen will have the right to issue the license, if approved.

Gov. Deval Patrick signed off on home-rule legislation last year allowing for the alcohol license. The bill was delivered in the State House by state Sen. Bruce Tarr and Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante.

The bill states that the license may only be applied to a grocery store, not a convenience store; the Board of Selectmen have the final say about what constitutes a grocery store or convenience store.

In the interim, Smith said he has high hopes for Saturday’s farmers market. He said in December, roughly 100 visitors showed up to browse and buy the goods offered at the temporary marketplace.

”The weather looks like it’s cooperating,” he said. “A lot of people had told me they are glad it’s happening, and they are looking forward to it.”

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.

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