Liberty Lake Farmers' Market

  (Liberty Lake, Washington)
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The Economy and the Market

Someone from the press was writing an article about the Market and asked me how the current economic situations were affecting us.

This is my take on it so far…

The economy doesn't seem to be hurting farmers' markets across the state. The Seattle Neighborhood Farmers' Market Association operates 2 year round urban markets that saw a large increase in sales this winter from last winter. 25 markets in the state got a grant from the Local Farms Healthy Kids bill to accept food stamps and credit and debit cards at their market. This is also a big draw to markets despite the economic challenges. 5 of the markets that got the grant funding are located in Spokane County. The Liberty Lake Farmers' Market didn't apply for the grant funding because of the additional staffing needed to facilitate such a program, but we are encouraging our vendors to look into credit and debit options for their businesses.

I don't think the economic uncertainty poses a threat for the Market. People are staying closer to home and enjoy visiting with their neighbors and the atmosphere that the Market offers. Part of the Market's vision statement says this, "We believe there is benefit from spending money and time within one's own community rather than exporting value to the outside." Our customers also generally have the same mindset. The Market is a wholesome gathering place that helps to create and enhance the culture of Liberty Lake. The Market has a lot of good things that make it appealing to customers. Live music every Saturday is one of those things and it starts with a bang, the Greenacres Elementary Marimba band on opening day. Good parking is another one of those things. We have had a good relationship with STA since the Market started and between the STA parking and parking at local businesses customers that are coming by car don't have to worry about a high-stress situation when finding a parking space or a dangerous situation when unloading their kids into strollers. We also put out tables and chairs for our customers which are a great perk. The Adirondack chairs were a big hit last year and we have already purchased more for this year.

We are committed to add value to our local community through economic development. The Market is a type of small business incubator. Just what we need in times of economic uncertainty.

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You used the term "incubator," which is very astute. When we started the Ferndale Farmers Market (way over on the other side of the state from you), we identified incubation as one of the key ingredients. This is one of the reasons we don't charge stall fees. I think this is very important. Another important tool is to allow cooperative marketing, as distinct from resellers. This year I have a broker who sells my produce and several other farmers' produce - all local and grown organically. This allows us to be on the farm on Saturdays.

Posted by Walter on May 08, 2009 at 10:19 AM PDT #

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