BY MEGHAN HICKEY

Journal Staff

With its launch on Aug. 31, the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association’s Friday Night Market at Acanta introduced multiple “firsts” for Guam’s tourist district of Tumon — catering to visitors, small businesses and locals alike. 

Mary P. Rhodes, president of GHRA, told the Journal that one key to the Friday Night Market’s success and the ability to cultivate the environment that GHRA envisioned was a covered outdoor space — exactly what the Acanta Mall provides — as well as the approval of its Class 10 License (Beer, Wine, and Spirits). The license allows up to 1,000 market attendees at any time to roam from the main bar at the entrance to the mall and around to all of the vendors housed under the 47,405-square-foot covered mall space. It also, however, extends over into the additional 5,060 square feet of the adjacent old En Restaurant parking lot, where the food trucks and beer garden will be located. Rhodes believes this is the first time that an open, barriered area has had this regular privilege in the Tumon district. “It gives everybody an opportunity to interact with the different vendors,” she said.

With vendors occupying 8-foot by 8-foot areas at $125 per Friday for Guam Product Seal, retail and artisan/craftsmen vendors and $150 for the limited seven food concession and food truck vendor category spots, Rhodes says this is a huge opportunity for local businesses to grow. “[Sorenson Media Group] normally wouldn’t give away space at that price but working with GHRA they knew that we wanted to create a destination, a hub, where we can help local vendors — a great place to interact and really test new products and test new ideas.”

According to Rhodes, two studies produced by the Guam Visitors Bureau were essential in deciding what type of attraction the Friday Night Market would become, and what kind of vendors it would support. One was the GVB report on visitor exit surveys, showing that tourists want more evening events to attend outside of the regular dinner shows available.

“We don’t have a lot of night time events aside from BBQ shows,” Rhodes told the Journal. She said that tourists typically arrive every three and half days, so those that arrive at the beginning of the week and attend the Wednesday night Chamorro Village market often leave by Thursday, and a new batch of tourists arrive. The Friday Night Market will offer the only non-dinner show event in Tumon for the tourists who arrive to stay for the weekend. “On any given day we could have 3,000 to 6,000 tourists. We’re really treating that second wave of tourists. … It’s not competing [with Chamorro Village], it’s just augmenting what we have already.”

Rhodes

The second study GHRA looked at while planning the market is the GVB Survey of Tourism Attitudes of Residents study, which focuses on residents needs — showing that residents are looking for more opportunities to expose tourists to local products and culture. So GHRA partnered with the Guam Visitors Bureau to promote and support businesses that produce locally by underwriting the costs — approximately $8,250 — for all Guam Product Seal and artisan/craftsmen vendors for the first six weeks of the market, in a location that is accessible and even walkable from a majority of the hotels and resorts.

“This project is all about supporting small businesses and promoting Guam-made products,” acting GVB President and CEO Antonio Muña Jr. told the Journal. “It’s also another activity for our local residents and visitors to enjoy while walking the streets of Tumon.”

Rhodes is hoping that the market will act as a business incubator where local businesses small and large can work with GHRA and introduce new products to the local, military and tourist communities. There aren’t a lot of retail outfits that feature local companies, she said, either because they don’t produce enough for larger contracts with companies like T Galleria by DFS or the ABC Stores or they haven’t really had an opportunity to showcase all of their products. “This is exciting because this is going to be a commercial outlet for them — a permanent place where they can come every Friday,” Rhodes said.

Eight GPS-designated vendor category spots have already been filled for the first six weeks of the market, as well as one of the two spots held for local artisans. Discussions are in the works to be able to continue to underwrite or sponsor GPS vendors after the initial six-week period, whether through additional GVB funds or through sponsors from the business community.

Muña

In addition to GVB, GHRA partnered with two local companies — One Music Guam and Jack Event Group — to help assure that the market is creating an opportunity on a rotating basis for all local artists, vendors and distributors on island.

“[Katherine A. Cruz, owner of One Music Guam] is responsible for basically contracting and engaging all of the musicians based on the different themes that we have so that we can work though one source and support a person’s endeavors to really consolidate all of the services for music,” Rhodes said. The other rotation coordination is for the front bar, at which GPS-designated vendor Coffee Slut will work with various distributors to create “naughty and nice drinks” — one alcohol infused and one kid-friendly — to match the theme of the evening. Food concession vendor Lin’s BBQ, a long-time partner of GHRA for Taste Guam events, will also occupy space at the front bar in collaboration with Coffee Slut.

 “This can be both a family friendly environment but can also be a nice adult event,” Rhodes said. “For that we’re working with Jack Event Group. … We have to feature all of our different distributors, so the different distributors will work closely with Jack Events to highlight different products at different times.”

Sotelo

Sammy M. Sotelo, managing partner of Jack Event Group, said that the company will also be offering a beer garden near the food trucks. “We have been hosting a Craft Garden Experience around town for the past year at various venues and now have partnered up with these two great organizations to bring a new type of energy to Tumon,” Sotelo told the Journal.

Rhodes said that GHRA’s goal is to always focus on what its distributors would like to feature or launch during an event, and the market provides an opportunity for them to work with GHRA and local vendors with advanced planning to test products that have not yet been introduced. The nightly market themes — Island night, Crafts and Craft, Industry night, Local Breweries, Oktober Fest (a two-week long theme) — allow distributors and vendors to work together on new products as well.

“For the themes, we are really focusing on the beverage portion, which is what we can control,” Rhodes said, such as creating tropical drinks for Island Night and offering craft beer for Crafts and Craft. But GHRA has also talked to food distributors to see if the companies would be willing to donate products for food vendors to be able to mix up their offerings. “The whole point of the themes is we always want to have a new and exciting Friday and a different product offering,” Rhodes said. GHRA is hoping local artisans and GPS vendors will supported each other by collaborating their offerings to tie into the theme, she said, and to help grow their product even further.

With the first six weeks of themes set, GHRA will continue to announce new themes at least four weeks in advance for vendors to be able to plan ahead. Opportunities for additional themes to be incorporated include holidays such as the popular Korean holiday Chuseok in September.

Retail, Guam Product Seal and artisan vendors will occupy 8-foot by 8-foot booths lining the covered halls of the Acanta Mall each week.

Photo by Meghan Hickey

The Friday Night Market is open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. every Friday. Parking lots at the Governor Flores Memorial Beach Park, or Ypao Beach Park, will remain open from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. each Friday for additional parking for attendees as agreed to by the Guam Department of Parks & Recreation, Rhodes told the Journal. The Guam Visitors Bureau additionally will have Visitor Safety Officers patrolling the Tumon area. 

GHRA also secured a second offsite lot for market attendees with Nanbo Insurance. The Nanbo Oka parking is on Farenholt Avenue across from Pay-Less Supermarket in Tamuning and will have a Denanche Security officer assigned to the gated parking lot from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Lam Lam Tours & Transportation is contracted to provide shuttle services every Friday night between the parking lots and Acanta Mall every 20 minutes. The first bus will depart the Nanbo Oka parking lot at 6:20 p.m. and the last bus will leave Acanta Mall at 10 p.m. GHRA also met with the Japan Travel Association to see if it can add Acanta back to its regular route on Friday nights and has approached businesses in the vicinity to provide walk-able parking sites, but have yet to secure any agreements. 

These partnerships are “very key in making sure we provide ample parking and also a safer environment,” Rhodes said.

GHRA is also introducing its first Sunday Jazz and Blues event on Sept. 9 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event is inspired by popular U.S.-mainland farmers markets and flea markets that feature live music, artists and foods on Sunday afternoons. The first GHRA Sunday Jazz and Blues will feature local bands Monster Squad and Tres to Impress.

“Friday nights tend to be very busy for people. … After people have brunch or breakfast, they can just come down and have some drinks or refreshments and just enjoy Sunday afternoon, with jazz in the background,” Rhodes said.

Acanta holds a prime location in Tumon for both visitors and locals, she said, but it has struggled to maintain tenants in the past. With these new events, “[GHRA is] trying to reenergize and bring in a new attraction and make this an actual destination for tourists.” — See “To market, to market: New offering to add to island attractions” in the April 30 issue of the Journal for the initial announcement of the market. mbj

Editors note: This story was updated on Sept. 3 to reflect newly announced details on parking secured for use by Friday Night Market guests.


Friday Night Market vendors

Twenty of 25 vendor spots filled for the launch of the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association’s Friday Night Market as of deadline. One food concession, two retail and two artisan category spots are still available for vendors in future weeks.

Food

  • Lynn’s BBQ

Food truck

  • Sticky Fingers
  • Sip & Dip
  • G&G’s BBQ
  • Hafa Huli
  • Plate Steak

Retail

  • The Coconut Tree Company
  • Dragonfly Keepsake Ornaments
  • Lotus Surf Shop
  • Craftee Bees
  • Unggoy Enterprise

Guam Product Seal

  • Get a Glow On
  • It’s Sew Jayne
  • Coffee Slut
  • Tasi Treasures
  • Sweet Things and Lullabies
  • American Chocolate Company
  • Shop Chamorro Village
  • Pacific Island Mannge Pops

Artisan

  • Lorzalyn Artistry