I visited the Little Italy Farmers Market (The Mercato) last Saturday to pick up some fruit and vegetables as well as to say hi to some of our old friends from our farmers market days. With the risk of sounding presumptuous, I feel like a celebrity when I walk through the market. I can’t make it two tents before I run into another vendor I know and stopping to chat for 5 or 10 minutes. And beyond that, people still give me discounted and or free produce. Look at this bounty I came home with!
And I spent only $5! Seriously people! I guess once you’re part of the club, it’s a lifetime membership. It is a testament to the strong relationships we built while selling at the farmers markets.
It goes beyond us just having been a vendor at the market – there’s definitely a piece that has to do with us all having dug the same ditch before, but there’s a bigger piece. We didn’t see the other folks as just fellow vendors, they became our friends; we’re all members of the same community. Some people view the other vendors as competition, however the majority of people recognize we are all, in a way, working together to make something happen.
Beyond the free/heavily discounted produce, I most enjoy seeing my friends. Not only can I see their arduous efforts, I know how much work it is to set up and breakdown each day to sell your wares in the middle of the street. I’ve felt the emotional ups and downs of busy markets and slow markets, the disrespectful customers, and the occasionally difficult market manager. This is the most basic level of small business – most of these folks do not have actual brick and mortar stores.
Though it always feels nice to get the hook up, I much prefer to actually pay these people – my friends – for the products of their hard work.