Market Design Ideas

BluestemSeptember 23, 2004

Our community is looking to start a farmer's market in our neighborhood, which is just on the edge of downtown Denver. We're wondering if those of you who know first hand the ins and outs of markets, what parts of the actual setup and design of markets work or don't? Where do you setup, a street? park? What's the surrounding buildings and setting like?

Just a few questions here, but anything else you would share would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks for any and all ideas!

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reinbeaux(z8 WA State)

Street - would have to get the city / county / fire department approval (fire department because it would be blocking traffic) Parks work well - one of the biggest markets I sell at (Puyallup, WA) is in a park - and the bank next door parking lot (Saturday market) Just built a building for the market - until this year, the market (20+ years) was strictly outside. Depends on your weather / market season too.

Most important thing is to have ample, close parking near the market so customers won't have to hunt for parking or walk a long ways (otherwise they don't stop - go do something else) They moved one of the markets I sell at and now have little customer parking too far away --- and it killed the market this year (Burien, WA)

Contact your state farmers market association (Washington State's is on the internet - quite sure Colorado's would be too) For the rules, information, insurance, etc. They may also advertise and may put together a flier with all the state's markets in it.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2004 at 12:20AM
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I would add, cluster your vendors. We always had setup in a striaght line but with some of our new members we decided to make two rows of vendors. It helped me out as I could see most of the market from the end that set up on. I block the parking lot off so we don't have drive thrus. We setup on a drug store parking lot on Sat. morningd from 9 till 1.
Since yours will be a brand new market you must consider advertising and signage. People won't come if you build it, unless they know where your at. Timeing is important to. If you start say with flowers and plants for mothers' day and then don't have any vendors selling till late June your going to lose customers. Plan ahead, if you have plants follow with straw berries and asparagas, then some early peas and other items. Make sure you keep to your Growers market theme and don't allow resellers. People look for farm freshness not cheap old produce. Keep to the idea of limiting crafters and other sellers, keep it farm.
Get the communtiy behind you and support your community. We have set aside a space for fund raisers, we promote activites around the communtiy and they inturn promote our market.
I would be more then happy to assist you if you need more ideas. Out market is over 25 years old and just this year we went from maybe five vendors to over fifthteen.
No matter what enjoy.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2004 at 5:31PM
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reinbeaux(z8 WA State)

I like what Tom said and I want to emphasize - DO ***NOT*** ALLOW RESELLERS (produce OR plants) --- one market, until this year, had nurseries selling plants shipped in from out of state, produce resellers selling produce that was NO WHERE in the state ripe at that time, etc. --- some people selling plants would pick their plants up from the wholesaler on friday and sell them at the market (with the wholesaler's wrappers and tags) the next day on saturday --- how are these people "farmers" ???

Farmers Markets are for FARMERS - those that work hard producing what they sell (either plants or produce) and is not a "street fair" where every reselling vendor can set up shop. Crafts are what brings some people to some markets - but PLEASE screen the crafters and make sure they are actually making their own items to sell (***IF*** you choose to allow craft vendors) Washington State Farmers Market Association limits the number of craft vendors - highly weighing produce and nurseries over them- after all, it is a FARMERS Market. One market I sold at last year had absolutely NO craft vendors allowed - and that market did well sales wise (there were other problems with that market unrelated to the vendors)

    Bookmark   September 25, 2004 at 7:48PM
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thank you for the tips and advice! You both mentioned close and ample parking, that we are definitely looking at!

Reinbeaux, you mentioned that the Puyallup market just recently moved into a building...after 20 years! That's great! What kind of building is it, how big, is there stalls or is it a large open room?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2004 at 4:50PM
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reinbeaux(z8 WA State)

They just built it - most of the market is still outside although they now have a building for extended market season. Open with different vendors - don't know if they are going to do any more finishing on it or leave it as is. I think they are going to leave it open so they can have different events in it during the off season. Different market management this year (main street association?) instead of the chamber of commerce.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2004 at 9:04PM
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