Farmers, Artisans, Local Retailers, Collectors, Produce, Ethnic Foods and Grocery, Baked Goods, and Ready-to-Eat Food!
PARKING: On the street, ride your bike, walk, etc...no place for a helicopter though. We suggest parking in the Taylor Street Parking Garage, just a half block from the market, between Main and Sumter Sts. Disregard all signage in garages (resv'd, etc.) except handicapped spaces. All parking is free throughout the city on the weekend!
"Downtown is alive and thriving" the mayor [Steve Benjamin] said. "Anytime we can attract several thousand people to Main Street 52 weeks a year, it means the heart and soul of our city has turned the corner."
-James T. Hammond, Columbia Regional Business Report Oct 29-Nov 11 2012
Soda City is a weekly, year-round, rain or shine street market on the 1400-1500 blocks of Main St. The market began as the All-Local Farmers’ Market in November 2004 with 6 vendors and 225 customers on a rainy day, no less. In October 2012, the market changed names and moved a mile or so north, from Olympia to Main St. The opening roster had 26 vendors, a few hundred customers…and 12 staff! 2 people now staff each market, in addition to 2 police and 1 fire marshal.
Soda City attracts between 4-6000 people each week and works with over 800 entities, including over 100 non-profits whom we host at no charge, generating over 4 million dollars in taxable annual sales, about a third of which is at the 10% hospitality level.
The market supports several thousand streams of income, and has generated hundreds of new city business licenses, moving major economic activity from the informal to the formal sector.
The market brings about a quarter of a million people to Main St every year, and we're still growing – the market gains a third block (1300) in 2017.
Soda City hosts 3 onsite special events – Suds & Spuds, OktoberFest, and HolidayFest – and several offsite events such as (upcoming) an Antique and Vintage Show and a Sports Memorabilia Show.
In 2011, the ALFM began Columbia Mardi Gras to raise money for Wil-Moore Farm, who lost a barn to fire. We raised $18,000 in 3 weeks for a complete replacement. Since then we have raised nearly $100,000 for Animal Mission’s support of the City Spay and Neuter Program. These charitable events grew to include the Annual Gervais Street Bridge Dinner (a seated, sunset, Sunday supper for 1000 on the bridge), and are now housed in a 501c3, Soda City Friends.
Lastly, the market is entirely self-supporting, taking no monies from the public coffers at any level, including hospitality tax, and paying for all services rendered by the City and others.