SOUTH PORTLAND – The Maine Mall is looking to start a weekly farmers market, even as an existing South Portland farmers market in the downtown area struggles to find the right location to draw more customers.

If the Maine Mall’s proposal is approved by town officials, it would be the second time the mall has operated a farmers market. The previous market ran from 2002 to 2005.

Mall manager Craig Gorris said the original market operated under previous mall management, and he could not comment on its success or why it ended.

The city’s existing market, the South Portland Farmers’ Market, is scheduled to begin its second season next week in a more visible location on Hinckley Drive adjacent to Mill Creek Park. That market opened last year in Thomas Knight Park but had trouble attracting shoppers. Initially it attracted more than 1,000 people a week, but by August, fewer than 100 shoppers were showing up, according to market manager Caitlin Jordan.

On Thursday, Jordan said she didn’t think a farmers market at the mall would affect business at the existing one.

“I don’t think the same people shopping at our market will be shopping at the mall,” Jordan said.

The South Portland Farmers’ Market was scheduled to open Thursday but was delayed a week because the city has not yet issued licenses for the approximately 20 vendors. After complaints last year that the market had too many vendors selling baked goods, the market expanded to offer more produce, meat and plants.

Before the Maine Mall market can get up and running, it needs special permits for outdoor sales and displays from the Planning Board. The board will consider the request May 22, and the market could open May 29.

The market would be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays at the corner of Gorham Road and Philbrook Avenue, in the parking lot between the Weathervane restaurant and Hannaford supermarket. In addition to selling produce, the market would feature plants and crafts. About a dozen vendors have committed to the market, which would allow up to 25 sellers.

Gorris said he expected the market to draw “several hundred” people per week. It’s a high-visibility location and easy to get to for commuters and shoppers on their lunch break, he said.

Lisa McLeod of Tourmaline Hill Farm in Greenwood said she is willing to make the 90-minute drive to sell her goods at the Maine Mall market because there is a strong customer base in the Portland area. She already sells goat cheese, meat and other products at the Portland Farmers’ Market in Deering Oaks.

“I felt this would be another wonderful opportunity to share goods with people who can’t get (to Portland) on Saturday,” she said.

David Orbeton, owner of Wicked Sharp knife sharpening in South Portland, said he decided against setting up at the mall because he has already committed to the South Portland Farmers’ Market.

“I just don’t think the time and the location and the kind of services I provide that it would have a draw,” he said.

Staff Writer Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: grahamgillian