New Open-Air Market benefits vendors and shoppers

Both vendors and shoppers celebrate the return of valley favorites


Photo courtesy of Republic Markets. Truck at the Open-Air market.

After a year of closures amid COVID-19 shutdowns, the new Open-Air Market in Palm Desert is open, and business is brisk. Valley merchants are happy to have a venue again, although a temporary one, and valley shoppers are glad to have them back. The market is scheduled to open Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. until its’ May 20, 2021 closure.

The strict lockdowns of COVID-19 have left many vendors without a home. The College of the Desert shut down its long-running COD Street Fair in compliance with regulations. The City of Palm Springs also closed its long-running Village Fest along Palm Canyon Drive. Many of the vendors in both fairs are family-owned operated businesses, and most did not qualify for unemployment. The disruption had a major impact on many of those families. Before COVID-19, there were over 170 vendors at the COD Street Fair. This year, the Open-Air Market currently has 36 full-time vendors, including those from the Palm Springs Village Fest.

Management of the market, Republic Markets, has been working with cash-strapped vendors to enable the space to provide income for their families once again. It was a battle even to secure an area for the new market. More than seven other venues in the valley had been considered, but with COVID-19 uncertainty, plan after plan fell through. The site at Monterey Shore Shopping is the only one the state and county could agree upon. Republic Market noted that the management at the new site has been very accommodating.

Photo courtesy of The Chaparral. Jerry Venegas tent at Open-Air Market.

Jerry Venegas operates Dates-R-Us, a produce supplier and one of many multi-generational businesses with a long-time tent at the COD Street Fair. His family-run business has suffered the loss of his brother and brother-in-law due to COVID-19. But this family has something not available to all. They weathered the lockdown by selling products on their own property. “We have our own date grove, so we just set up our stand in front of the field. That kept us going through the shutdowns.”


E&E Pels food truck has been a staple in the Coachella Valley and a regular at the COD Street Fair. Tim and Gina Uschyk have retired from working, but their heart is still in the business. Tim is still the company’s face, but if lemonade had a face, it would be Nick Uschyk, a third-generation family member operating the truck at the Open-Air Market. Cheery, open, and amiable, he explains how their family business has weathered the lockdowns, “Because we are mobile, we can go anywhere. We are surviving, but we have also held fundraisers across the valley for shuttered businesses considered ‘nonessential’ during the pandemic. The police department has commended us for bringing some sense of normalcy to people’s lives right now.”

“We’ve been commended by the police department for bringing some sense normalcy to people’s lives right now.

— Nick Uschyk

Ross Kavinge of Wholesale Premier Sports has had a different experience than most during the pandemic. He’s actually had one of his best years ever. His company manufactures golf equipment that he sells to retailers and his wholesale outlet at the Open-Air Market. “Golf is one of the few activities people can still enjoy,” he noted, “The sport has enjoyed its biggest growth spurt in a decade.” He notes that golf is so popular, his business cannot keep up with the demand for equipment.

Photo courtesy of Republic MarketsBand playing at the Open-Air Market Saturday, April 17, 2021.

Neither the COD Street Fair nor the Palm Springs Village Fest has yet announced any plans for reopening. Vendors are hopeful that the popular COD Street Fair will return this fall. This is the preferred venue for many of our valley’s hard-working suppliers, and they look forward to coming back to COD, their home, for almost three decades.

The Open-Air Market is located in Palm Desert at Monterey Shore Shopping Center, near Costco at 72700 Dinah Shore Dr. The market will be open Fridays through Sundays from 9 a.m until 2 p.m. The last event of the season will be May 30.

For vendors wishing to join, a California Sellers Permit is required from, as well as a Palm Desert Business License. Food Merchants must have a valid Riverside County Health Permit, “EZ-Up” Style “Pop-up” tents only. No pole & fitting tents. Each tent leg must have a minimum of 25lbs weight attached. All COVID-19 protocols for Riverside County must be adhered to.

For more information, visit Open Air Shopping.