Trade & Investment
Feature: Los Angeles's historic market welcomes Chinese visitors
Last Updated: 2018-07-28 07:02 | Xinhua
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It might be a sweltering summer day, but the Farmers Market in Central Los Angeles was still bustling with hordes of hungry patrons, many of them Chinese, on Tuesday evening.

"We love our Chinese visitors and welcome them to visit us when they come to L.A. (Los Angeles)," said the market's Public Relations and Marketing Director Ilysha Buss.

Apart from promotion in California, Buss's team also "make a dedicated effort" to exploit Chinese food websites and social media, including Weibo and WeChat, to reach out to overseas Chinese communities and tourists.

The market is one of the most authentic American lifestyle experiences outside of Hollywood celebrity events, said Jingyi Wang, a senior manager at an L.A.-based consulting service provider on Chinese consumer strategy.

"We want our Chinese clients to enjoy the Farmers Market experience to the fullest," said Wang. "So we update the events, music and stories about the market every week on its Weibo and WeChat accounts."

The crowd is a hodge-podge of nationalities and ethnicities including American, Chinese, European and Hispanic with ages ranging from toddlers to the elderly, some of whom were familiar with the market when it first opened in 1934.

"I've been coming to the Farmers Market since the late 30's when I was a girl," said Darleen Tiberi, a spry local who is in her eighties. "They had car races here and football games. It was one of the only places you could have fun after the Depression."

"It's the heart of the community it serves. Its history goes way back," said Patty Lombard, a local journalist.

The Farmers Market offers food stalls, sit-down restaurants and food vendors. Visitors in bright summer dresses and designer shirts have plenty of tasty fare from various countries, including Chinese and Asian food at Angie Chan's China Depot and the Peking Kitchen.

Marconda's Meat and Butcher has four generations of their family working at their booth in the market.

Fun shops are also scattered around the market, such as France's Sur La Table with exquisite French table linens and ceramics, the coffee-table book publisher Taschen, and Bar 326 that offers locally crafted beer and wines.

Friday Night Music, scheduled from May to August, brings in a young, hip crowd to the talent showcase every week.

Over the years, the market has attracted celebrities like actor Mark Wahlberg, television host Jimmy Kimmel, and kitchen crusader Gordon Ramsey.

Mark Panatier, vice president of the A.F. Gilmore Company that owns the market, is an infectiously affable guy who's worked for the company for 30 years.

"We've doubled attendance this year. It's a great event for everyone, with good fun and terrific food," Panatier told Xinhua. "So many wonderful tastes, all in one place."

"We are thrilled when Chinese visitors come. They are more adventurous. They try more types of foods," Panatier said.

Yu and Ellie Chen, tourists from Nanjing in eastern China, found the market offers great dining and shopping experiences.

"The food is very good and there's a lot to choose from," Yu told Xinhua. "And we can shop for name-brand fashions next door at The Grove."

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