An idea for an open air pop up market on Tully Road is reinvigorating an East San Jose community.
The Tully Night Market, located by the Tully Road Ballfields and community library, has become a local food, art and music destination for residents on Wednesday nights. Councilmember Maya Esparza pushed for the idea as a way to support community businesses in a neighborhood historically ignored by the city.
Esparza, who represents the area, got the concept funded in last year’s budget. She wants to make the night market a permanent community fixture from summer through fall. The market is located near a residential neighborhood and new dog park with space for food trucks and a beer garden. The event flourished last summer with up to 650 attendees per night.
“The Tully Library and ballfields have been underutilized as a whole, and that area also serves as this nexus of really underserved communities,” Esparza told San José Spotlight.
Organizer Fil Maresca of Filco Events said there are 20 local craft and business vendors, three food trucks and three local nonprofit tables at the market every week.
“We plan to grow to 35 vendors in the next month,” Maresca told San José Spotlight. “(Our) attendance has more than tripled, as we started with less than 200 people for the first two weeks, and last Wednesday we had over 700.”
There are plenty of free offerings, Esparza said. The first 50 attendees get free ice cream, the library gives out free books and the city’s Viva Parks program, which plans free events, offers games and music.
Jorge Gomez, who advocates for and promotes local business owners, said the Tully Night Market adds cohesiveness to the community.
“It’s an area that typically gets overlooked by the city, and to bring it to life is a major win for the city and the community,” he told San José Spotlight.
Jesus Flores, CEO of the Latino Business Foundation of Silicon Valley, said vendors have talked about placing small open air markets in East San Jose for years. He said they are a great opportunity for business owners to present products and establish name recognition.
“Public markets bring a lot of the community together,” Flores told San José Spotlight. “The high rent prices makes it very difficult for businesses to have a brick and mortar location, so a pop up place is always a great alternative.”
Flores said the pandemic hit East San Jose particularly hard, and the market is a good opportunity for new business owners.
One of those vendors is Lena Ramalho, owner of The Swagger Fool. She sells handmade reusable household products at the market.
“The exposure has been great,” she told San José Spotlight. “It’s given the opportunity for people to get to know me and my brand.”
Other vendors have had a similar experience and discovered a new economic lifeline since setting up shop on Wednesday nights.
Vanessa Crawford, owner of VMGC Designs which creates custom shirts, said the location is “amazing” for selling their products.
“All of the small businesses are thriving each week because of these events,” she said.
The Tully Night Market is open 5:30-8:30 p.m. every Wednesday through Oct. 26, although that date could be extended.
Contact Natalie Hanson at [email protected] or @nhanson_reports on Twitter.