Changing the Face of Downtowns

Farmers Markets Incubate Grocery Districts

Farmers Markets Incubate Grocery Districts

Sep 21, 2012

Saturday mornings across America, a new tradition is taking hold. Pop-up tents get popped-up, pick-ups get packed up, and the world of Farmers Markets comes to life. We have been pushing the importance of Farmers Markets in downtown revitalization, but it seems like we might have only focused on the short view. What are the next steps? What happens after you have your farmers market?

Since 2000, the number of farmers markets has grown 150%, from 2,863 markets in 2000 to 7,175 in 2011. And as the number of markets grow, the economic data collect continues to grow as well. Here is a sample of some of the stats.

  • Vermont farmers markets yielded $8 million in gross sales to producers in 2010, up 14% from 2009.
  • 21 farmers markets in Oklahoma led to an increase of 113 jobs, $5.9 million in direct and indirect economic output, and a $2.2 million increase in income.

    The Farmers Market in Hertford, North Carolina happens in a city owned park just across from the Seniors’ Center. Vendors, farmers, and musicians combine to create a place that the community comes together and enjoy each other.

  • 152 farmers markets in Iowa provided 576 jobs, $59.4 million in economic output, and a $17.8 million increase in income.
  • The Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans generated $9.88 million in total economic impact in 2010.
  • The Hunterdon Land Trust Farmers Market in New Jersey has an annual regional economic impact of $2.6 million.
  • Twenty-six Mississippi farmers markets generated a total economic impact of $1.6 million, 15.88 part-time jobs, $213,720 in wages, and $16,000 in state and local taxes.

Research also shows that farmers markets spur spending at neighboring businesses. Studies of the Easton Farmers Market in Pennsylvania, for example, found that 70% of farmers market customers are also shopping at downtown businesses, spending up to an extra $26,000 each week. The Emporia Farmers Market in Emporia, Kansas generated $36,000 in sales tax between 2003 and 2010, supporting the state economy.

The Farmer’s Market in Heidelberg, Mississippi is not organized. Producers simply pull up along Main Street, drop their tailgate, and sell the freshest stuff around.

Once the market is established, the next steps can go in several directions. The first and easiest is to enhance viability of the district through new customers and a new habit of spending money downtown.

The second is a little harder. We need to start using our farmers markets to cultivate value for good, quality, healthy food. In addition, we need to offer payment options like EBT/SNAP, making farmers market products available to a wider income range.

The third, but most important, is the long term development of a grocery district in downtown, bringing people down regularly for quality products. A great example is The Olde Towne Butcher, located right around the corner from the farmers market in Fredericksburg, Virginia. These guys have got it together. The locally famed butcher has partnered with regional producers like Spotsylvania County Raw Honey, Mast Natural Angus Beef , Blackstone Coffee Company, and Trickling Springs Creamery. They teach classes in sausage making and chicken cutting, have 1400 likes on Facebook, have expanded, and are constantly growing their product offerings based off of customer requests.

“We are the meat side of the farmers market. We buy as much local as we can. The money we spend here stays here. When we first opened, there were people that would go over to the farmers market and send people in to see us. It forced us to open an hour early. If we kept the door locked, we would have a line!” Lee Russell, owner, The Old Towne Butcher.

I Own Downtown is introducing and exposing a new focus, one we are calling Stall to Store. It is the next logical step in using Farmers Markets as economic engines. The community markets should spin off butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. Share your stories of Stall to Store successes, and let’s focus on converting this vibrant downtown activity into a real catalyst effort in our communities.

time to OWN it

Step 1- Get Your Market Manager to sign up for this!
SEED- Sticky Economic Evaluation Device

Step 2- make sure you can take EBT/SNAP
Accept EBT

Step 3- Make sure your vendors can take credit card.
Accept Credit Cards

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