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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Great Markets

Eugene selling a customer (and future customer) a butternut squash mere minutes before the crowds gathered

We have had a great late summer farmers market season. In all but one Saturday the last 4 weeks we have broken, no shattered, sales records. And that feels so good. Finally, after 14 years of learning how to do this we can make a decent living instead of just barely eking by. This does not mean we are getting rich, not by any means. But what we are doing is making close to minimum wage instead of making around $2.80 an hour, working 60+ hours a week.

The Saturday farmers market in Uptown Oxford is becoming THE place to be on Saturday mornings. Used to be we would get to market at 7:20am or so, get set up by 7:45am and not sell much of anything until around 9am. So I would wander around the market and talk to people and buy things like meat and eggs from other farmers. No more. Now we need to get there by 7:00am (this almost never happens) so we are pretty much ready to go when the bell is rung at 7:30 because the crowds will start to gather by 8:00am and by 8:30 the crowd is there enforce and the serious selling starts. I kinda miss not getting to talk to the other growers and vendors and it has become almost impossible to buy locally produced items I do not grow/make myself. Eggs are easy because Karen Baldwin is just two stands down from me and I can get over there before we are completely set up, say good morning and buy a dozen eggs and than get back to the stand. Buying meat form either the Filbruns or Bill Miller/Bob Harris is trickier because they are at the other side of the market and it can take me up to a half hour to get over there and back because I will pass by people with whom I want to chat for a few minutes. Repeat a minute or two of light conversation 10 times and one has eaten up a half hour.

What can I say, the farmers market is my social time. Or it was until things got much, much busier. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I am in this business to make a living and a dead farmers market is no way to make a living. I have been there, done that and never want to repeat that again. It is great that the foot traffic through the market has increased about 100% over this time least year. We must get around 800 to 1000 people through the market these days vs around 450 to 600 last year. If things keep on going the way they are this market should get around 3000 people through in another year or two.

Kudos to the market board for making the market better each and every week and all the eaters who are waking up and smelling the fair trade coffee and buying local.

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