In 1918, the next Gilmore generation assumed control of the property. Earl Bell Gilmore, Arthur's son, went on to create a vast oil and gas distribution network. The auto industry was producing more than four million cars each year. With a healthy portion of those headed for California and Los Angeles, Gilmore's independent oil company became the largest in the West.
Gilmore's flair for promotion made his gas stations a popular part of the Western landscape. "Blu-Green" gas, the famous "Red Lion", "Gas-a-terias" (the first self-serve stations), and radio jingles which people hummed, were examples of his successful promotions.
Roger Dahlhjelm and Fred Beck, two entrepreneurs trying to make the best of the Depression, approached E.B. Gilmore with "An Idea." Perhaps they were attracted by Gilmore's marketing flair or perhaps it was his expansive acreage in close proximity to the booming Los Angeles community.
Whatever the motivation, Dahlhjelm and Beck envisioned a "Village Square" where artisans would sell handmade goods - pottery, furniture, textiles. Their stalls would surround a central market where farmers would sell their produce to housewives. Dahlhjelm and Beck had architectural renderings and a vast vision. E.B. Gilmore had a large vacant field, and the "Idea" was given life.
The concept of elaborate architecture gave way to wooden stalls, and the vast vision gave way to a modest business approach. Farmers were charged a mere 50¢ per day "rent" - but the "Idea" had a power all its own.
Farmers Market reached and surpassed the lofty vision which launched it. By the time the decade had lapsed, the gross was greater than the predicted six million dollars, but commercial volume was the least of the Market's achievements.
Farmers Market became the central meeting place for Angelenos - "Meet me at 3rd and Fairfax" is still one of the most common phrases in the city. It also became, and remains, the must-see tourist attraction in Southern California.
Farmers Market has been the home to circus acts, parades, petting zoos, and "stargazing". It was also the source of a daily newspaper column which, at its height, rivaled "Dick Tracy" in popularity. Chef Baloni, the irrepressible Fred Beck, made his home here and offered cooking tips and Farmers Market recipes.
As a part of an expansion and reconstruction project in 1941, Farmers Market became the home of the Clock Tower, which has become an international landmark. In tribute to Earl B. Gilmore, Roger Dahlhjelm, and Fred Beck, the words "An Idea" were inscribed on the Clock Tower.
At the turn of the millennium, the one-time dairy farm adapted once again. Following years of careful planning, the A.F. Gilmore Company completed an arrangement to develop several acres of property into one of the most delightful, and amazingly popular, shopping and entertainment venues in the nation. The Grove, developed by Caruso Affiliated Holdings, features a wonderful array of stores, restaurants, the finest movie theater complex anywhere, and a streetscape which is inviting, friendly, and specifically designed for strolling. At the same time, the Gilmore Company created North Market, now home to the ultra-modern Gilmore Bank building, a number of street-level shops, and two stories of offices. While these new additions have greatly enhanced the experience, which draws millions of visitors to Farmers Market, the Market itself remains what it has always been – a delightful and utterly charming place to meet, eat, shop, and stroll.
Now entering its eighth decade as one of the most popular places anywhere in the U.S., Farmers Market remains "An Idea" whose time is now.