Familiar face at the 2nd Street Market to retire at end of the year

The man who has overseen the Five Rivers MetroParks 2nd Street Market for the last 16 years is proud of the sense of community that he sees every week in the market’s corridors, farmers market stands and other vendor spaces.

“This market really reflects Dayton and the Midwest and our values,” Jimmy Harless said of the public market at East Second and Webster streets in downtown Dayton. “When you come here, people are going to smile at you. People are rooted here.”

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“The market attracts people from all parts of town. Vendors know their customers by name. Everyone is welcome, and I think everybody feels that.”

Harless, 68, announced Wednesday that he will retire at the end of the year.

“It’s time,” he said.

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Harless has been a constant presence at the market for 16 years, chatting with customers and vendors and helping to trouble-shoot any facility or logistical problems that arise. Prior to the market’s manager, he worked extended stints in the construction industry and overseeing a flea market — developing a skill set that would come in handy.

He praised Five Rivers MetroParks, which has always owned the facility that houses the 2nd Street Market and took a more direct role in operating it a decade ago. “They had the vision to open the market, and followed up with support,” Harless said.

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Bill Tschirhart, chief of administration for Five Rivers MetroParks, said in announcing the retirement, “Through Jimmy’s leadership, the market has expanded hours, increased attendance and vendors, and provided spaces for community outreach.” Among other accomplishments, Harless organized a tree-seedling giveaway that is now in its 15th year, and it has distributed more than 25,000 trees.

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Harless said he’s looking forward to spending more time with his family. His colleague Lynda Suda, coordinator of the 2nd Street Market, wrote in a notice to vendors that, “Although the market will not be same without it’s ‘Mayor,’ I hope you will join me in wishing him well in his new life adventure. “

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