Look for a colder Maryland Wholesale Produce Market in the next few years.
At least that’s the plan for the Jessup, Md., facility.
“We decided tenants would eventually close in their docks,” said Rose Harrell, the market’s manager for the past two years. “When we were going through the process to enclose the docks, one of our largest tenants, Coosemans, was the first to want to enclose the back part of their docks.”
Market management and specialty wholesale distributor Coosemans D.C. Inc., which is now in its third year on the market, decided it would serve as a prototype of what the facility might look like in the future, Harrell said.
The process will require a number of phases, the first of which involves upgrading the facility’s electric and sprinkler systems.
That project also is being completed in stages in each of the facility’s six buildings.
The 21-unit building that includes Coosemans D.C.’s 11 units is the first to get the upgraded power and sprinklers.
“Coosemans actually came to us last year and said they really needed to enclose, so they’re going to be our prototype for the enclosure for the market,” Harrell said.
Coosemans will be able to begin enclosing its rear dock within the next year, Harrell said.
The goal is to enclose back docks for each of the market’s 20 tenants, he said.
The market also is working on other improvements, she noted.
Security, for example, has been strengthened over the last couple of years, she said.
The market also has a team of roving guards and additional cameras that expand video coverage.
It’s all a part of a facility that, these days, is open almost always.
“It’s pretty close to 24 hours now,” she said. “It’s really changing with the type of business and the ethnic business in the market.”
The expanded hours haven’t presented much of an additional burden, Harrell said.
“It hasn’t presented a large challenge,” she said. “Actually, it has eliminated some potential problems, with the extra security.”
Access to the market likely will improve in the not-too-distant future, Harrell said.
“We’re working on coming up with a new pattern for the routing of traffic into the food center,” Harrell said. “Hopefully that will all take place within the next year, and we can have better access into the market.”
The market is as vibrant as it ever has been in its 40-plus years, Harrell said.
“Everybody seems to have their own niche here, and they all seem to be working well in those niches,” she said, adding that the market is full and has a waiting list of prospective tenants.
Rahll & Sons, which at 14 units is the market’s largest vendor, has been on the market from its start. Joe Rahll, vice president, agreed that the facility remains as vital and vibrant as ever.
“The entire market is filled, and there are a lot of independents now,” Rahll said. “That’s certainly a change from 10 years ago.”
Coosemans has been on the market since the fall of 2007, when a fire forced it out of its former location.
“It’s been a symbiotic relationship,” said Lolo Mengel, president of Coosemans D.C “We needed a new home and they needed some new business on the market, and we were able to help each other.”