Search is on for new Lenexa Public Market Manager

Search is on for new Lenexa Public Market Manager
Posted on 06/06/2022
After successfully managing the Lenexa Public Market for more than five years, Manager Carmen Chopp is leaving her role in mid-July.

“We are grateful to Carmen for her outstanding leadership and tenacity in implementing the vision we had for the Public Market,” said Lenexa Assistant City Manager Mike Nolan. “Carmen joined our team before construction of the Market was even complete, and she was the creative force behind the community-focused place we know and love that celebrates food and cultivates local entrepreneurs.”

With Carmen departing, the City of Lenexa is searching for the next person to lead the Public Market.

“This is such a unique role within our organization and in the hospitality industry, and we know that the perfect person is out there to take the Public Market to the next level,” said Nolan. “We are looking for someone special who understands the vision of the Public Market and the impact it has on our community.”

Read more about this unique role.

We asked Carmen to answer a few questions to shed light on her experience at the Public Market and help explain her role as manager.

What has been the most rewarding part of your Public Market experience?
There is so much, but if I had to distill it to one thing it would be connections. I have loved watching people connect with the place and each other – whether they are working, studying for exams, having their first date, resting with their feet up on the sofa, celebrating a win, a birthday or new baby, or just catching up. Having selected each merchant and given them an opportunity to start and grow their business in the Public Market, I have to say that it has been particularly rewarding for me to see the connections and the relationships formed between them and the community. There is really nothing more rewarding than that.

How do you describe your role as Public Market Manager to your friends?

It’s complicated so I try not to! Seriously though, even my friends in the industry don’t necessarily understand all that I do, so if I describe it, it’s usually something like, “I manage a large space that houses multiple businesses. It’s equal parts building operations, space programming, real estate development, leasing, and small business coaching and development.”

Why is the Lenexa Public Market such a unique place to manage?
The people – merchants, staff, and guests - make it a special and unique place to manage.

What would surprise people about your job?
I think it would surprise people that while I negotiate the leases, answer to the City Manager and City Council, am responsible for the budget and strategic planning, and am responsible for really high-level work – I still bus tables, clean up spills, dump trash, put a new roll of toilet paper on the dispenser in the bathroom stalls, fluff the pillows on the sofa, and turn out the lights at the end of an evening when I close.

What kind of person do you think would make an excellent candidate to succeed you?
Even though the Market is a publicly run place, the job requires an owner’s mentality, and as an owner you just do what needs to be done to run the business. The ideal candidate would have a vision of what the place could and should look and feel like. Someone with perspective and who possesses a good sense of who to advocate for (the customer, merchants, or the City) in any given situation. It takes someone sturdy enough to withstand getting knocked around a bit by the inevitable criticism, but soft enough to remain warm and open to the possibilities of the place. Finally, the Market needs someone who embraces people – all people – and who understands that the really good “stuff” the Market is trying to stimulate is unplanned, uncontrolled, and oftentimes completely spontaneous.

How has the Public Market changed since it opened five years ago?

Well, the faces and personalities have certainly shifted and changed as staff and merchants have come and gone – which is actually by design – but I think the biggest change is just in the exposure of the place. When I started six years ago, I had to hunt high and low for merchants to take a chance on our vision and now they come to me and are ecstatic to be part of it.

How do you think the Public Market will continue to evolve?
I have no idea. And that’s what makes it such a great place! I have no doubt, though, that it will continue to evolve organically. Good planning and leadership leaves room for that.

Apply for Public Market Manager
Published June 6, 2022