24 July 2011 Market Report

Well, I missed Monday & Tuesday in a frenzy of baking, invitation discussion, and cleaning. However, I imagine Jen is still curious about the market. So, what happened last Sunday with PCM?

It rained. And rained. And rained some more. And then finally it stopped around 11:00 am, which was nice. Until 1:00 pm, when it went back to being oppressively hot. I hate the oppressively hot days, so I was thankful for the cool hours in between.

So, what does rain mean for our market? I don’t know what is “normal” for PCM, since this is my first year, and thus first rain day, but here’s what it meant on Sunday.

Mostly? It means business as usual. People still want food, even if it’s raining.

Thus, most of our normal vendors showed up. One guy checked in with us first, to make sure we’d still have a market, then went back & got his set-up. He is what I call “a lunch vendor”, meaning his booth sells prepared foods that are basically intended to be eaten right then.

We have one “lunch vendor” who is a huge draw. They make tamales that are pretty darn good, and people come from all over to buy her tamales. That vendor came fairly late, for reasons I am not sure of.

We did, however, have two vendors not come/set up. This is a direct result of our being a “community market”, rather than a straight “farmers’ market”. We have a few vendors who are not food vendors. This past Sunday we were expecting a jewelry vendor and a bookseller, and both chose to avoid the rain. I can see why, especially in the case of the bookseller! (Our bookseller actually came, but did not set up, and chose to leave when the skies opened. Nice man, that guy.)

The market was, I think, slower than average in sales, but not a lot. As you can imagine, the rain kept plenty of folks away, as did the heat. However, others came out as they always do. We also had some brand new people.

Now, on “the last post”:http://metacookbook.com/archives/267-Market-Day-Any-Questions.html Jen asked a couple of questions, which I decided to answer in a following post. My hope is that every week there will be a few questions, and I can rotate them into the next “Market Report” post.

1) Is it possible that people are weirded out by your thanks because it’s not obvious that you’re there in an official capacity?

It’s absolutely possible, but I think it’s unlikely. I almost never thank people unless I am under the “PCM tent”, which is kind of our home-base. That tent has a big banner with the market’s name, dates & hours. It’s where we process the EBT benefits. It’s where we allow some community brochures to be laid. It’s where we take questions, comments, criticisms.

But people don’t always realize it anyway. I’ve been asked what I’m selling sometimes, for example. So it’s possible that people don’t realize this is “official”.

2) So what sort of vendors do you have? Mostly food? Do you insist they be locally-sourced, in line with your values?

As this post mentions, we’re not totally a “food” market, but yes, mostly food. We have two meat vendors, and one of them also sells cheese, eggs, pasta and jam. Oh, and pet bones. We have two produce vendors, who sell a variety of produce. Finally we have a group of people who have joined forces and sell bread, jam, honey and a few pickles. These are what I would call our “anchor vendors”. They are there every week (or nearly so), and sell the things people seem
to be most coming for.

Then we have about three “lunch” vendors. This is actually a pretty high proportion compared to other markets, I think, but it seems to work for us. They all usually sell out, or come close, so it’s pretty good. Hot days & rain days can kill that, since people don’t want to linger, but it hasn’t been a huge issue yet.

Then, every week we have a baker, but it switches off each week. One of our bakers specializes in small tarts (and they are killer), but makes a mean Vietnamese coffee. The other branches out a bit more and makes cupcakes, cookies, scones awesome lemonade, but also some pickles and jam.

We have a book vendor who comes every week, a jarred jams & salsa vendor who comes once a month, a jewelry vendor who comes every other week. We have recently added a fully vegan baker, who will come every other week as well.

I think that’s everyone.

As for the food sourcing, the truth is that my ethics actually only play a small role in this market. I answer to a board of directors, and am basically running their market for them. They give high priority to locally sourced food, but it is not currently a requirement. I believe they are in discussions right now to decide if this the right direction for the market, or if they want/need to change direction. I don’t know for sure, though, as I am not on the board, and I couldn’t comment exactly either way.