We distributed a survey at the end of the 2013 season. Thanks to all of you who filled it out.
Here are some of the comments that we got, along with our responses. We hope it’s a good look into how we run the Market. The next blog post has more answers and comments.
comments about the Market
- “Wonderful selection of fresh produce and other products.”
- Favorite things about the Market include “fresh stuff, local vendors, running into people I know.”
- “I like the variety, but also the consistency of vendors.”
- “Almost always see friends, enjoy talking to vendors. Nice place for connecting with other Belmontians.”
shopper questions and responses
“The Market looked more sparse this year.”
At the beginning of the season, we have fewer vendors because there’s not much produce to sell yet. Later on, we do have all of the spots filled. But, sometimes a vendor can’t make it. We try to fill that space with a vendor who wants to join the Market (as a trial of sorts), or with a vendor who comes occasionally. We can’t always book them at the last minute, but we try.
“More vendors sold out and closed early.”
It’s hard for vendors to predict how many customers they will have, so they occasionally sell out before the end of the market.
“Missing vendors from years past.”
“We lost a couple of vendors this year, which was too bad.”
We miss some of our previous vendors, too. Sometimes they have schedule conflicts, and sometimes their business plans change. We’re always excited about bringing new vendors to the Market and think that you’ll like the new vendors, too, once you get to know them.
“Almost no one takes credit cards, and the ones that do, service is spotty”
Each season, more vendors take credit cards. Their equipment uses the same signals that your cell phone does, and unfortunately, the service in Belmont Center isn’t very good.
“I am missing Siraco the knife sharpeners, an essential service!”
Siraco came twice during 2013, but their truck is parked just outside the main Market area. We’ll try to publicize them more, both before and during their visits. We’ll look into more visits, too.
“I wish there were more organic produce and products.”
We’ll keep this in mind as we plan the 2014 Market. We do try to have a balance of growing types: organic, integrated pest management, transitional and traditional. Here’s an article from North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on some of those farming methods.
“I’d like a little more variety, and perhaps some arts/crafts stuff”
“Good variety of fruit/vegetable vendors.”
“I wish we had more vendors.”
“I wish the Market were bigger”
The Market Committee works hard to find a good variety of vendors, including prepared and raw items in many categories. We have new vendors every year, and new categories many years (like microgreens and ice pops in 2013, and tea and spices in 2012). That selection process starts in the winter, and goes right until the Market opens in June. We know that we can’t please everyone, but we try to fill different categories and offer what our shoppers want.
In 2013, we rearranged the Market space so we could fit a few more vendors in the middle. We’ll try it again in 2014.
Many other markets are much bigger than ours. We like the fact that we’re located in Belmont Center and we can bring more shoppers to the Center to visit the merchants there. But the space is limited. We don’t have enough room to have crafts and enough food vendors to support our mission:
Our mission: To provide members of the community a place to purchase fresh, local produce and goods directly from farmers and producers in a congenial atmosphere; to provide farmers and producers a direct market for their produce and goods; to support local agriculture and producers; to educate our community about eating healthfully; to educate residents about maintaining a healthy environment and the importance of sustainable agriculture; and to provide a social experience that helps build community and enhances the quality of life in Belmont.”